Skip to main content

Full text of "A Short History Of The Fatimid Khalifate"

See other formats


Demy Svo t dark green cloth, gilt. 

ALBERUNI India. An Account of the Religion, Philosophy, 
Literature, Geography, Chronology, Astronom>, Customs, Lawt, and 
Astrology ot India, about A.D 1030, B\ DR. EDWARD C. SACHAU. 

ARNOLD (Sir E.) : Indian Poetry and Indian Idylls. Con- 

taming ' The Indian Song of Songs/ tiom the Sanskrit of the Gita Gonnda 
ofjajadeya: Two Books horn tie ' Hud of India' (Mahabharata), ' Pro- 
verbial Wibdom,' from the Shlo>a> of the Hitopadesa, aad other Oriental 

BARTH (Dr. A): The Religions of India. Authorised 
Translation by REV J WOOD 

BIGANDET (B, P.)j Life or Legend of Gaudama, the Buddha 

of the BurauM .With Annotations, the Wa>s to Neibban, and Notice on 
if ie Fhongyieb or Burmese Monks 

BEAL (Prof. S.) : Life of Hfuen-Tsiang. By the Shamans 
Hwui Li and YBN-TsUNC With a Preface containing an Account of the 
Works ot I-Toing. 

BEAL (Prof. S.) : Bi-Yu-Ki: Buddhist Records of the Western 
World Translated from the Chinese ot Uiuen-Tsiang. 

BOULTING (Dr. W.): Four Pilgrims: I., Hiuen Tsiaiig; II, 
Svwult; III.. Mohammed ibn abd Allah , IV, Ludorico Vartbema ot 

COWELL (Prof. E, B): SarYa-Dareana-Samgraha ; or, Review 
of the Ddteient Systems of Hindu Philosophy By MADHAVA ACBAKYA. 
Translated by ProE E. B. COWBLL, M A., and Prof. A. E. GODQH, M A. 

DOWSON (Prof. J.) . Claaaical Dictionafy of Hindu Mythology 
aaA RtlKlon, Oeoffraphy, Hlatory, and Llteratare. 

EDKINS (Dr. J.) Chinese Buddhism: A Volume of Sketches, 
Hhtoncal, and Cnbcal New and Revised Edition. 

ROCKHILL (W. W ) : The Life of the Buddha and the Early 
HUtory of his Order. Denved trom Tibetan wcnks in the Bkahhgyur and 
Ditan-hgj ur. Followed by notices on the early history of Tibet and Kboten. 

HAUG (Dr. M.) : Essays on the Sacred Language, Writings, 
and Religion of the PartU. 

WEBER (Dr. A.) : Hlstoiy of Indian Literature. Translated 
by JOHN MANN, M.A., and THEODORE ZACHARIAB, Ph.D Fourth Edition. 

O'LEARY (De Lacy) . Arabic Thought and its Place in History. 
Other Volumes to joUow. 





Lecturer in Aramaic and Syriac, Bristol University 
Author of "Arabic Thought and its Place in History" 





Printed in Greit Britain by 
John Roberts Press Limited, London 


THE following pages present a brief outline of the 
history of the Fatiraid Khalifs who were ruling in 
_Egyj)t at the time of the First and Second Crusades. 
"Too often the student of European history gleans his 
knowledge of the oriental powers with which the West 
was brought into contact by the Crusades from western 
Christian writers, who do not fairly or truly describe 
those powers, and do not set forth clearly the strong 
and weak points which are so important in interpreting 
(he actual forces with which the Crusaders were brought 
into contact. These pages are drawn from the Arabic 
and Persian historians so as to present a picture which, 
though inaccurate in some points, nevertheless shows 
the other side not perceived by the historians who 
wrote the narrative of (he Crusades from a western 
standpoint. Directly, therefore, they supplement the 
western history, but are still more important in their 
indirect bearing as an effort has been made to show the 
rise and development of the Faiimid Khalifate and sect 
as a rival to the orthodox Abbasid Khalifate of 
Baghdad, whidh is most essential 10 the right under- 
standing of the world into which the Crusaders 
penetrated, whilst at the same time it shows a curious 
and important phase of Muslim tendencies which are 
not without a bearing on the later history of Islam, 
The present essay does not claim to be an original 
study in a field hitherto unexplored, but simply aims 
at bringing together in an accessible form material 
which will be of service to the student of mediaeval 
western history and to those who are interested in the 
development of Islam, and to do so with such 
comments as will enable it to be coordinated with 
contemporary European history. 







IN NORTH AFRICA . . . . 51 





Mo'izz 93 



ZAHIR 189 







HAFIZ ...... 222 


ZAFIR 227 


ISLAM appears first on the page of history as a purely 
Arab religion: indeed it is perfectly clear that the- 
Prophet Mohammed, whilst intending it to be the one 
and only religion of the whole Arab race, did not 
contemplate its extension to foreign communities, 
" Throughout the land there shall be no second creed n 
was the Prophet's message from hib death-bed, and this 
was the guiding principle in the policy of the early 
Khalifs. The Prophet died in A.IJ n, and within the 
next ten years the Arabs, united under the leadership 
of his successors, extended their rule over Egypt, Syria, 
Mesopotamia, and Persia. To a large extent it was 
merely an accident that this rapid expansion of Arab 
rule was associated with the rise of Islam* The ex- 
panding movement had already commenced Ixtforc the 
Prophet's ministry, and was due to purely secular 
causes to the age long tendency of the Ar 
every race at a similar stage of economic 
development, to over-spread and plunder t 
territories in their vicinity. The Arabs were/nor 
dwellers in a comparatively unproductive 
been gradually pressed back into that 
development of settled communities of cultivators in the 
better irrigated land upon its borders. These settled 
communities evolved an intensive agriculture, and thus 
achieved great wealth and an advanced state of civiliz- 
ation which was a perpetual temptation to the ruder 
nomads who, able to move over great distances with 
considerable rapidity, were always inclined to make 
plundering incursions into the territories of the pros- 
perous agricultural and city states near at hand. The 
only restraint on these incursions was the military 
power of the settled communities which always had as 



its first task the raising of a barrier against the wild 
men of the desert : whenever the dyke gave way, the 
flood poured out. In the seventh century A.D, the 
restraining powers were the Roman Empire and the 
Kingdom of Persia, and both of these, almost simul- 
taneously, showed a sudden military collapse from 
which, in the natural course of events they would, no 
doubt, have recovered after a short interval; but the 
Arabs poured in at this moment of weakness, just as 
the Teutonic and other groups of central Europe had 
broken through the barriers of the western half of the 
Roman Empire ; and at that moment, in the course of 
their incursion, they received a new coherence by the 
rise of the religion of Islam 1 and, by the racial unity 
thus artificially produced, became more formidable. 

In their outspread over Egypt and Western Asia the 
Arabs adopted the policy, partly deduced from the 
Qur'an and partly based on the tradition of the first 
Khalif's conduct in Arabia, of uncompromising warfare 
against all " poly theists," the creed of Islam was a 
pure unitarianism, and could contemplate no toleration 
of polytheism, but of accommodation with those pos* 
sessed of the divine revelation, even in the imperfect 
and corrupt form known to Christians and Jews. These 
" People of the Book " were not pressed to embrace 
Islam, but might remain as tribute-paying subjects of 
the Muslim rulers, with their own rights very fully 
secured. In all the conquered lands the progress of 
the Muslim 1 religion was very gradual, and in all of 
them Christian and Jewish communities have main- 
tained an independent continuous existence to the 
present day. Yet for all this there were very many 
conversions to the religion of the ruling race, and these 
were so numerous that within the first century of the 
Hijra the Arabs themselves were in a numerical minority 
in the Church of Islam. The alien converts, socially 
and intellectually developed in the culture of the 
Hellenistic world or of semi-Hellenistic Persia, were 
very far in advance of the ruling Arabs who were 
little better than half savages at the commencement of 
their career of conquest: and the unexpected inclusion 
of this more cultured element acted as a leaven in the 
Islamic community, and forced it lo a rapid and some- 
what violent evolution. It is wonderful that Islam had 


sufficient vigour and elasticity to be able to absorb 
such fresh elements and phases of thought, but that 
elasticity had its limits, and at a very early date sects 
began to form whose members the orthodox felt them- 
selves unable to recognise as fellow Muslims. 

These early sects which were generally regarded a 
heretical were, in most cases, reproductions of older pre- 
Islamic Persian and Mesopotamian religious systems, 
with a thin veneer of Muslim doctrine, and, in the 
second century of the Hijra, when they became most 
prominent, they were strongly tinctured with Hellenistic 
philosophical speculations which had already exercised 
a potent influence in Mesopotamia and Persia. In 
theory these sects were " legitimist " in their adherence 
to the principle of hereditary descent. Orthodox Islam 
accepted as a constitutional principle the leadership of 
an elected khalif or " successor," a natural develop- 
ment of the tribal chieftainship familiar to the pre- 
Islamic Arabs. Amongst them the chief was elected in 
a tribal council, in which great weight was given to the 
tried warriors and aged men of experience, but in which 
all had a voice, and choice was made on what we should 
describe as democratic lines, and this remained the 
practice in the earlier age of Islam. Such a constitu- 
tional theory was no great novelty to those who had 
lived under the Roman Empire, but was entirely 
repugnant to those educated in Persian ideals, and who 
had learned to regard the kingship as hereditary in the 
sense that the semi-divine kingly soul passed by trans- 
migration at the death of one sovereign lo the body of 
his divinely appointed successor. This had been the 
Persian belief with regard to the Sasanid kings, and 
the Persians fully accepted Yazdegird, the last of these, 
as a re-incarnation of the princes of the semi-mythical 
Kayani dynasty to which they attributed their racial 
origin and their culture. Yazdegird died in A.H, 31 
(=A.D. 652), and his death terminated the male line of 
the Persian royal family, but il was generally believed 
that his daughter, Shahr-banu, was married to Husayn, 
the son of the fourth Knalif 'AH, so that in his 
descendants by this Persian princess the claims of 
Islam and of the ancient Persian deified kings were 
combined. Historically the evidence for this marriage 



seems to be questionable, but it is commonly accepted 
as an article of faith by the Persian Shi'ites. 

At a quite early date the house of 'AH began to 
receive the devoted adherence of the Persian converts. 
That 'Ali himself had been prominent as a champion 
of the rights of alien converts to equality in the brother- 
hood of Islam, and still more his harsh treatment by 
Mu'awiya, the founder of the 'Umayyad dynasty, 
caused his name to serve as a rallying point for all those 
who were disaffected towards the omical Khahfate. It 
is now the general Shi'ite belief that 'Ali, the cousin 
and son-in-law of the Prophet, was his chief companion 
and chosen successor, the three preceding Khalifs being 
no more than usurpers who had kept him out of his just 
rights and whose wrong doing he had borne with 
exemplary patience. 'Ali himself does not seem to 
have taken so pronounced a view, but he certainly 
regarded himself as injured by his exclusion from the 
Khalifate. It is not true to say with Muir (Caliphate, 
p. 301), that the idea of a divine Imamate or " leader- 
ship " was entirely the invention of later times because, 
as early as A.H. 32, in the reign of 'Uthman, the Jewish 
convert 'Abdu b. Saba of Yemen, a district which had 
been conquered bv the Persian king Nushirwan, and 
settled by Persians for nearly a century before the 
coming of Islam, and so thoroughly impregnated with 1 
Persian ideas, preached the divine right of 'AH. This 
view he maintained afterwards when 'Ah was Khalif, 
in spite of 'Ali's own disapproval, and at 'Ali's murder 
in A.H. 40, he reiterated it in a more pronounced form : 
the martyred Khalifs soul, he said, was in the clouds, 
his voice was heard in the thunder, his presence was 
revealed in the lightning : in due course he would 
descend to earth again, and meanwhile his spirit, a 
divine emanation, was passed on by re-birth to the 
Imams his successors. 

Certainly the tragedy of Kerbela, which centred in 
the pathetic sufferings and death of 'All's son, llusayn, 
as he was on his way to claim the Khalifutc, produced 
a tremendous wave of pro-'Alid feeling : indeed a 
popular martyr was the one thing needed to raise 
devotion to the house of ( Ali to the level of an emotional 
religion, though many, no doubt, supported the 'Alid 
claims simply oecause they formed the most convenient 


pretext for opposing the official Khalifate, and yet 
remaining outwardly within the fold of Islam. 

After the death of Husayn there were three different 
lines of 'Alids which competed for the allegiance of the 
legitimist faction, those descended from (i.) Hasan, and 
(ii.) Husayn, the two sons of 'Ah by his wife Fatima, 
the daughter of the Prophet, and both therefore repre- 
senting the next of kin to the Prophet who left no son, 
and (iii.) the house of Muhammad, the son of 4 Ali, by 
another wife known as the Hamfite. Of these three 
we may disregard the descendants of (i.) Hasan, who 
ultimately migrated to Maghrab (Morocco), and became 
the progenitors of the Idrisid dynasty and of the Sharifs 
of Morocco : they formed a very moderate branch of 
the Shi'ite faction, adopted many practices of the 
orthodox or Sunni party, and had no part in the 
peculiarly Persian developments of the Asiatic Shi'ites. 
The first 'Alid faction to become prominent was (iii.) 
the partisans of Muhammad, the son of the Hanifite, 
who were formed into a society by Kaysan, a freedman 
of 'AH, for the purpose of avenging Hasan and Husayn. 
They recognised a succession of four Imams or valid 
commanders, 'Ali, Hasan, Husayn, and Muhammad, 
the son of the HanifiLe, and maintained that, at 
Husayn's death, Muhammad became de jura the Khalif 
and the divinely appointed head of thft Church of 
Islam. Muhammad himself entirely disowned these 
partisans, but that was a detail to which they paid no 
attention. At Muhammad's death in A.IK 81 this party, 
" the Kaysanites " as they were called, recognised his 
son Abu Hashim as the fifth Imam until A.H, 98, when 
he died childless after bequeathing his claims to 
Muhammad b, 'Ali b. 'Abdullah (d. A.n, 126), who 
was not of the house of 'Ali at all, and who became 
the founder of the 'Abbasid dynasty which obtained 
the Khalifate in A.H. 132. It was under Abu Hashim 1 
that the party, now changed in name from Kaysanites 
to Hashimites, became an admirably organised con- 
spiracy which contributed more than anything else to 
the overthrow of the 'Umayyad Khalifs. Throughout 
the Muslim dominions there was deep and ever- 
increasing dissatisfaction with the 'Umayyads, who 
represented an arrogant parvenu Arab aristocracy, 
ruling over races who enjoyed an older and richer 


culture, and were by no means effete. The Hashimites 
seized hold of this discontent and sent out their mis- 
sionaries (da'i, plur. du'at) in all directions disguised 
as merchants and pilgrims who relied upon private 
conversations and informal intercourse rather than 
public preaching, and thus began that unostentatious 
out effective propaganda, which has ever since been 
the chief missionary method of Islam. Hashimite 
teaching centered in the doctrines of tawakkuf or the 
theory of a divinely appointed Imam, who alone was 
the rightful Commander of the faithful and their 
authoritative teacher, of hulul or the incarnation of the 
Divine Spirit in the Imam, and of tenasukhu l-Arwah 
or the transmigration of that Spirit from each Imam -to 
his valid successor, doctrines alien to Islam proper. 
With the death of the Abu Hashim this party passed 
over to the service of the 'Abbasids to whom it was a 
source of great strength, and at their accession to the 
Khalifate it ceased to exist as a sect. 

The most important sect, or group of sects, of the 
Shi'ites was (ii.) the faction which recognised Husayn 
as' the third Imam, and his son, *Ali Zayn al-Abidm 
(d. 94 A.H.) as bis successor, the son of the Imam and 
of the royal princess of Persia. But at al-Abidin's 
death this party split into two, some following his son 
Zayd (d. 121), others his son Muhammad al-Bakir (d. 
113). The former or Zaydite party established itself 
for a considerable period in North Persia, and still 
maintains itself in South Arabia. Zayd himself was 
the friend and pupil of the Mu'lazilite or rationalist 
leader Wasil ibn 'Ata, and the Zaydites have generally 
been regarded as more or less free thinkers. The 
majority of the Shi'ites, however, recognised Muham- 
mad al-Bakir as the fifth Imam, and after his death 
Ja'far as-Sadiq (d, 148) as the sixth, though here again 
there was a schism, some regarding Abu Mansur, 
another son of Muhammad al-Bakir, as the sixth 
Imam'. Abu Mansur seems to have been one of the 
first 'Alids to endorse the divine rights claimed for 
them by their followers, and did so in an extreme form, 
asserting that he had ascended to heaven and 'obtained 
supernatural illumination. At this time all the extremer 
Shi'ites regarded the Imam as an incarnation of the 
Divine Spirit passed on from 'AH, and many believed 


that 'All was the true prophet of God whose office had 
been fraudulently intercepted by Muhammad. 

The Mansuns, however, were a minor sect, the 
majority of the Shi'ites followed Ja'far who was Imam 
at the time of the 'Abbasid revolution. He was one of 
those who were deeply influenced by the traditions of 
Hellenistic philosophy and science, and was the author 
of works on chemistry, augury, and omens: he is 
usually credited with being the founder, or at least the 
chief exponent, of what are known as batinite views, 
that is to say, the allegorical interpretation of the 

Sur'an as having an esoteric meaning, which can only 
; learned from the Imam who is illuminated by divine 
wisdom, and who alone is able to reveal its true sense. 
The inner meaning thus revealed was usually a more 
or less imperfect reproduction of Aristotelian doctrine 
as it had been handed down by the Synac writers. Like 
his brother, Abu Mansur Ja'far fully endorsed the 
doctrine of a divine Imamate and the transmigration of 
the Divine Spirit, then tabernacled in himself, and it 
seems probable that Van Vloten (Recherckes sur la 
domination arabe, 1894, pp. 44-45) is right in sug- 
gesting that the general promulgation of these beliefs 
amongst the Shi'ites was largely due to the labours of 
the Hashimite missionaries, , 

The contemporary establishment of the 'AbbasiAs 
made a far-reaching change in the conditions of Islam. 
The Arabs began to take a secondary place, and Persian 
influences became predominant, In 135 the noble 
Persian family of the Barniecides began to furnish 
watm or Prime Ministers to the Khalifate, and con- 
trolled its policy for a period of fifty-four years. Nearly 
all important offices were given to Persians, and a 
distinct anti-Arab party was formed, known as the 
Shu'ubiyya, which produced a prolific controversial 
literature which expressed the hatred stored up under 
generations of 'Umayyad misrule : the Arab was held 
up to derision, his pretensions to aristocratic descent 
were contrasted with the much more ancient genealogies 
of the Persian nobles, and he was portrayed as little 
better than an illiterate savage. In literature, in science, 
in Muslim jurisprudence and theology, and even in the 
scientific treatment of Arabic grammar, the Persians 
altogether surpassed th'e Arabs, so that we must be 


careful not to talk of Arab philosophy, Arab science, 
etc., in the history of Muslim civilization, but always 
of Arabic philosophy, etc., remembering that it was 
not the science and philosophy of the Arabs, but that 
of the Arabic speaking people, amongst whom only a 
small minority were actually of Arab race : and this 
applies to the " golden age " of Arabic literature (A.H. 
132-232). On the other hand it must be remembered 
that, indirectly and unintentionally, the 'Umayyads had 
helped towards this result. It was under their rule 
that the Arabic language had been introduced into the 
public administration, and in due course replaced 
Greek and Persian in all public business, so that it 
became the common speech of all Western Asia, or at 
least a common medium of intercourse between those 
who used various languages in their private life, and 
thus the brilliant intellectual and literary renascence 
was rendered possible by a wide exchange of thought. 

We may rightly refer to this period as a renascence, 
for it meant quickening into new and other life the 
embers of the later Hellenistic culture, and especially 
of the Aristotelian philosophy and medical and natural 
science, which had never quite died away in Western 
Asia, but had been checked by its passage into wSyriac- 
speaking and Persian-speaking communities, amongst 
whom the language in which the original authorities 
were written was only imperfectly known. Thus 
Hellenism suffered a phase of provincialism, which 
came to an end when Arabic appeared as a more or 
less cosmopolitan language, and thought began to be 
exchanged by different races and social groups. Under 
the early 'Abbasids, and especially under the Khalif 
al-Ma'mum (A.H. 198-218), there was a vast amount of 
translation from Greek into Arabic until the greater 
part of Aristotle, of the neo-Platonic commentators on 
Aristotle, of Galen, some parts of Plato, and other 
material, were freely accessible to the Muslim world : 
whilst at the same time translations were made from 
Indian writers on mathematics, medicine, and astron- 
omy, some directly from the Sanskrit, and others from 
old Persian versions. 

As a result the philosophical speculations of the 
Greeks began to act as a solvent upon Islamic theo- 
logy, and from this doctrinal discussions and con- 


troversies arose which, on the one side, produced a 
series of rationalistic heresies, and on the other side 
laid the foundations of an orthodox Muslim scholastic- 
ism. Long before this Hellenistic influences had 
permeated Persia and Mesopotamia, and these now 
revived and resulted in a philosophical presentation of 
religion which, under the veil of allegorical explan- 
ations of the Qur'an, was really undermining orthodox 
doctrine, and heading towards either pantheism or 
simple agnosticism. With these tendencies the pro- 
Persian party was particularly associated. The Khalifs 
who, in spite of Arab birth, were most devoted tc 
Persian ideas, largely because the Persians were subtle 
courtiers and were the champions of absolutism, were 
amongst those most ardent in promoting 1 the study of 
Greek philosophy; and the Imams t such as Ja'far and 
his brother Zayd, wore even more devotedly attached to 
this type of philosophical speculation which was acting 
as a powerful solvent on the traditional beliefs of 
orthodox Islam. 

At Ja'far's death another schism look place, indeed 
the perpetual sub-division into new serfs has always 
been a salient characteristic of the Shi'iya. Ja'far had 
nominated his son Isma'il as his successor, but after- 
wards disinherited him because he had been found in 
a state of intoxication and chose as heir his second son, 
Mtisa al-Oazam. There wen* some, however, who still 
adhered to Isma'il, and refused to admit that his father 
had power to transfer the divinely ordained succession 
at will; they asserted indeed that the son's drunken- 
ness was its-elf a sign of his superior illumination as 
showing that he knew that the ritual laws of the Qur'an 
were not to be taken literally, but had an esoteric 
meaning which did not appear on the surface. Musa, 
the seventh Imam as generally reckoned, and his son, 
'Ali ar-Rida (p. 202), the "two patient ones," suffered 
harsh treatment at the hands of the contemporary 
'Abbasid rulers; they were brought from Madina by 
Harun ar-Rashid so as to be under Iho observation of 
the court, and in 148 Musa was poisoned by the wasir 
Ibn Khalid. His son 'AH married the daughter of the 
Khalif Ma'mun, and was intended to be the heir to the 
throne. But Ma'mun very nearly provoked civil war 
by his strong Shi'ite sympathies, and when he per- 


ceived how dangerous a storm the projected accession 
of 'All was beginning to arouse, he extricated himself 
from the difficulty by procuring the Imam's death. 'Ah 
al-Qazim was usually reckoned as the eighth Imam, the 
ninth was Muhammad al-Jawad (d. 220), the tenth 'AH 
al-Hadi (d. 254), and the eleventh al-Hasan (d. 260), 
these two latter being buried at Samarra, which replaced 
Baghdad as the 'Abbasid capital from A.H. 222 to 279. 
The town afterwards fell into decay, but has been 
colonised by Shi'ites, and is one of the places of Shi'ite 
pilgrimage. The twelfth Imam was Muhammad al- 
Muntazir, who in A.H. 260 " disappeared," The 
mosque at Samarra is said to cover an underground 
vault into which he went and was no more seen. The 
" twelvers," or Ithna 'ashanya, who to-day form the 
main body of the Shi'ites, and whose belief is the 
official religion of modern Persia, suppose that he is 
still living, and the place where he is to re-appear when 
he emerges from concealment is one of the sacred spots 
visted by the Shi'ites. 

But, as we have already noted, some of the Shi'ites did 
not accept Ja'far's transference of the Imamate from 
his son Ism'il to his second son Musa, but recognised 
Isma'il still as heir. Isma'il died in 145 whilst his 
father was still alive, leaving a son named Muhammad. 
Although Isma'il's body was publicly shown before ils 
burial at al-Baki', many persisted in believing that he 
was not dead, and asserted that he had been seen in 
Basra after his supposed funeral; others admitted his 
death, but believed that his Imamate had passed to his 
son Muhammad; others again believed that his soul 
had migrated to Muhammad, so that they were in 
reality one person. These adherents of Isma'il, or of his 
son Muhammad, or of Isma'il-Muhammad, form'ed the 
sect known as the Israa'ilians or the Sab'iya, i.e*, 
" seveners," accepting the six Imams to Ja'far as-Sadiq, 
and adding his son or grandson as the seventh and last. 

These <c seveners " seem to have been a comparatively 
minor sect of the extremer Shi'ites. Some members of 
the sect are still to be found in the neighbourhood of 
Bombay and Surat. But, about 250 this comparatively 
obscure sect was taken in hand and organised by a 
singularly able leader, and became for a time one of 
the most powerful forces in Islam, 



(i) 'All d, 41. 

marr. (1) Falima (ii) al-Hanlfiya 

(3) Hasan i 50. (3) Husayn A6r. Muhammad 

Mutammad Abd Allah (4) AliZayad. 94. 

(Sherifsof Idns Zayd (5) Muhammad 

Morocco) I I al-Bakird. 113. 

(Idrislds (Zaydites | 

of N.Africa) of N.Persia (6)Ja'faras- 

a&d S. Arabia) Sadipd.i48<. 

(rt'Itma-tt (?)Muaa 
| d, 183. 

Muhammad I 

| (8)<Aliar-Rida 

(alleged d 20*. 

descent of | 

Fatimidfl) (9) Muhammad al- 

Jawad d. 230, 


(12) Muhammad 



FROM the beginning the neo-Isma'ilian sect showed all 
the characteristics of the ultra Shi'ite bodies : it accepted 
the 'dim i-bahn, or the principle of allegorical inter- 
pretation which is especially associated with Ja'far as- 
Sadiq, the doctrine of incarnation, and of the trans- 
migration of the Imam's soul. But underneath all this, 
borrowed from current Shi'ite ideas, it had a strong 
element of agnosticism, a heritage of the philosophical 
ideas borrowed from Greek scientists, and developed 
in certain directions by the Mu'tazilites. As organised 
by its leader, whose name was Abdullah b. Maymun, 
it was arranged in seven grades to which members 
were admitted by successive initiations, and which 
diverged more and m'ore from orthodox Islam until its 
final and highest stages were simply agnostic. Accord- 
ing to Stanley Lane-Poole "in its inner essence 
Shi'ism, the religion of the Fatimids is not Moham- 
medanism at all. It merely took advantage of an old 
schism in Islam to graft upon it a totally new and 
largely political movement" (Lane-Poole: Story of 
Cairo, Lend., 1906, p. 113), In this passage "Shi'ism" 
is taken as denoting the sect of the " Seveners," and 
the " political movement " is simply disaffection 
towards the Khahfale. Similarly Prof. Nicholson con- 
siders that " Filled with a fierce contempt of the Arabs 
and with a free-thinker's contempt for Islam, Abdullah 1 
b. Maymun conceived the idea of a vast secret society 
which should be all things to all men, and which, by- 
playing on the strongest passions and tempting the 
inmost weaknesses of human nature, should unite 
malcontents of every description in a conspiracy to 
overthrow the existing regime " (Nicholson : Literary 
History of the Ardb^ pp. 271-272), 


Undoubtedly the ideas involved in the Isma'ilian 
doctrines were totally subversive of the teachings of 
Islam, but so were those of the " philosophers,' and 
in exactly the same way. The views of Ibn Tufayl (d. 
531 A.H.) and of Ibn Rushd (Averroes, d. 595 A.H.) 
were purely Aristotelian in basis, and on this found- 
ation was built up an agnostic-pantheistic super- 
structure, Ibn Tufayl particularly makes it quite clear 
that his teaching is not consistent with the Qur'an 
which he treats as setting forth a system of doctrines 
and ritual precepts suitable for the unlearned who 
ought not to be disturbed in their simple faith, but quite 
inadequate for the satisfaction of the more intelligent : 
the mysteries of the universe, revealed through Aris- 
totle and his followers, furnish a sounder religion, but 
it is expedient that this be reserved for the enlightened 
and not divulged to the ilitcrate who are unable to 
appreciate or understand its bearing. Such teaching is 
subversive of orthodox Islam, and consciously so : in 
the case of 'Abdullah it may, perhaps, b described as 
a conspiracy against religion. In one sense it was the 
final product of the rationalism of the Mu'tazilites, 

Admittedly the Isma'iliya worked as a political con- 
spiracy against the 'Abbasids, but this was true of 
every Shi'ite sect : the 'Abhosids had used the Shi'ites 
in seating themselves on the throne, and then discarded 
them. Still it seems that we have no reason to question 
the perfect sincerity of the Isma'ilians in their agnostic 
principles : those principles were the product of the 
solvent influence of Greek philosophy upon the religion 
of Islam : Islamic thought was too simple and primitive 
to be able to adapt itself to that philosophy in its en- 
tirety, hence some such position as that of Ibn Tufayl, 
or of Ibn Rushd, or of the Isma'iJians, was inevitable. 
It was equally a necessary result of 'the time and cir- 
cumstances that these rationalists tended towards the 
Shi'ites. In spite of weird superstitions, especially 
current in Khurasan, the Shi'ites represent the Muslim 
element most kindly disposed towards freedom of 
thought. This seems a bold statement to those familiar 
with Shi'ites of the present day, but it must be noted 
that the Shi'iles whom the European most frequently 
meets are either the devotees who have settled in places 
like Samarra, or those who seem to be more exclusive 


than the orthodox Muslims, chiefly because they have 
as yet had much less intercourse with foreigners. In 
2-3rd cent. Islam it was the Shi'ite princes who in- 
variably did their best to foster philosophical and 
scientific research, whilst, after A.H. 232, the orthodox 
party, as it gets in the ascendent, becomes distinctly 
reactionary, and tends to repressive persecution. 

The most difficult task for us is to appreciate the 
strong appeal which the doctrines of incarnation and 
transmigration made to the Persian and Mesopotamian 
mind. Both these doctrines had figured prominently 
in pre-Islamic religions in Western Asia; and both 
recur in most religious movements from the coming of 
Islam to the present day in that particular area. We 
may note a few instances to illustrate this, and show 
incidentally the strong attraction these doctrines had 
for the Persian mind. 

Abu Muslim was die general who more than any 
other helped to seat the 'Abbasids on the throne, and 
suffered death at the hands of the first 'Abbasid Khalif, 
who was jealous, with good cause, it would appear, 
of his excessive power. But Abu Muslim had exercised 
an extraordinary influence over men during life, and 
was treated as a quasi-divine hero after death, his 
admirers regarding him as not really dead but as 
having passed into " concealment," some other having 
been miraculously substituted for him at the moment 
of execution. This resembles the theory which the pre- 
Islainic Persian teacher Mani held as to Christ. Mani 
fully accepted Christ as a religious teacher, side by side 
with Zoroaster and Buddha, but he could not admit 
the reality of his death, for a material body capable of 
death was in his view unworthy of one purely good. 
He supposed, therefore, that at the crucifixion Simon 
of Cyrene was at the last moment substituted for Christ, 
and this Persian idea has actually obtained a place in 
the Qur'an (cf . Sura 4, 156). 

Not long after Abu Muslim we hear of a pseudo- 
prophet named Bih-^ifaridh, a Zoroastrian who had 
travelled in the far East, and afterwards accepted Islam 
at the hands of two du'ai who were preaching the cult 
of Abu Muslim. Very little is known of his teaching, 
but he certainly maintained the doctrine that the Imam 
is an incarnation of the Deity, and seems to have 


attached a particularly sacred signification to the 
numeral seven. This superstitious reverence for parti- 
cular numbers was a common feature in the pre-Islamic 
religions of Mesopotamia, and we shall meet it again 
in the doctrines of the Isma'ihans. 

Another sect, of similarly prc-Islamic origin, was 
that known as the Rawandiyya from its origin at 
Rawand near Isfahan. Its members were king-wor- 
shippers in the old Persian sense, and a body of them 
travelled to Hashimiyya, where the Khalifs then had 
their residence, and tried to acclaim the Khalif al- 
Mansur as a god. He not only rejected the proffered 
adoration, but cast the leaders into prison. This was 
followed by an attempt to attack the palace, the 
Rawandis considering that, as the prince had disclaimed 
deity, he could be no valid ruler. For some centuries 
the sect, strongly disaffected towards the Khalifate, 
lingered on in Persia and had many sympathisers* 

Under the next Khalif al-Mahdi, came the still more 
serious rebellion of al-Muqanna', the " veiled piophet 
of Khurasan/ 1 who asserted his own deity. He was 
killed in A.H. 169, but his followers, as usual, believed 
that he had not really suffered in person, but had 
passed into concealment and would in due course return 
again : they continued to form a distinct sect for some 
three hundred years. 

Another pseudo-prophet of the same type was Babak 
al-Khurrami, who was executed in A.H. 222 or 223. He 
also declared himself to be an incarnation of the Divine 
Spirit, and asserted that the soul within him had 
already dwelt in his master Jawidan. 

We might continue to extend the series very con- 
siderably by enumerating the various prophets and 
sects which reproduce these same general characteris- 
tics. The latest example occurs in the Babi movement, 
which st^ll flourishes and has many converts in this 
country and in America. The first teacher of the 
Babists, Mirza 'AH Muhammad (A.D. 1820-1831) claimed 
only to be a Mahdi or fore-runner of One who was to 
come, but his successor, Mirza Husayn 'AH, declared 
himself to be the expected One, the incarnation of the 
Divine Spirit, which is an em'anation of the Deity and 
is fairly equivalent to the Reason, Word, or Spirit of 
the Plotinian philosophy. In later times this doctrine 


has rather fallen into the background, perhaps as the 
result of western influences, but the earlier phase shows 
a repetition of the traditional Persian position. All 
these sects show common matter in the doctrines of 
incarnation, of transmigration, and of an esoteric 
teaching to be revealed only to the elect. Such were 
the extremer Shi'ite sects of mediaeval times, and such 
are their descendants of modern times. Even in Persia 
to-day, side by side with the more orthodox "Twelvers" 
of the state church and off-shoots such as the Babists, 
the Latest of a long series of mystical developments 
from the Shi'ite stock, are the ' AH Allahis who believe 
in the deity of the Imam 'Ali, and combine with this 
belief many elements from the ancient Zoroastrian 
religion, a survival of the older mediaeval Shi'ism 
which caused so much trouble to the Khalifate of 

In the teaching of most of the Shi'ites it is believed 
that some deceased Imam was an incarnation of deity, 
and it is he who, not really dead as men suppose, has 
passed into concealment, to return again in the fulness 
of time, when this evil age in which the tiue Khalifate 
no longer exists has passed away. Meanwhile there is 
no valid Khalif or Imam upon earth, but only some 
Shah or king who acts as vicegerent of the hidden 
Imam' until his return. 

This digression serves to show us how strongly 
Persian thought always has inclined towards the idea 
of a divine incarnation in the honoured religious 
teacher, and towards that of transmigration of the soul 
from one such teacher to his successor. In the 3rd 
century A.H. probably no sect which did not hold such 
theories could have obtained a favourable hearing 
amongst the Persians who found Islam of the Arab 
type unsatisfying, and every radical religious movement 
was necessarily compelled to assume at least the 
externals of Shi'ism. 

The Shi'ite party organised by 'Abdullah is known 
by various names. It is called fsma'ilian as represent- 
ing the party adhering to Isma'il, the son of Ja'far 
as-Sadiq, and his son Muhammad, as against those 
who continued the succession of the Imamate through 
Musa ; but the name is not strictly accurate as it seems 
that there was an Isma'ilian sect proper existing before 


'Abdullah, and that his re-organisation was so drastic 
that we may regard the continuity as being severed; 
and it seems certain that some part of the earlier sect 
continued to exist independent of his reforms. It was, 
no doubt, its attachment to a deceased or " hidden " 
Imam which made it a more promising field for the 
advocates of a speculative philosophy than any sect 
whose Imam was living and might dissociate himself 
from the doctrines held. It was also called the Sab'iya 
or " Seveners " because it accepted seven Imams, and 
also because it attached a sacred significance to the 
numeral seven; there were seven prophets, seven 
Imams, seven Mahdis, seven grades of initiation (after- 
wards changed to nine), etc. In many respects Sab'iya 
is the most accurate name, but it is open to the same 
objection as Isma'ilian. More commonly its members 
are called Falwiites as recognising Fatimid Imams 
who claimed descent from 'All and Fatima : but this, 
although convenient because of its frequent use 
amongst mediaeval Arabic writers, is peculiarly in- 
accurate. The Ithna 'ashariya or sect of " Twelvers" 
was equally Fatimite, and so were the Zaydites, indeed 
these last were the true Fatimitos as holding that any 
person descended from 'AH and Fatima might be a 
valid Imam : but common usage allows the use of 
"Fatimiles " for the sect organised by 'Abdullah. 
Another name is Batinites or advocates of an allegorical 
interpretation, but this also applies to other Shi'ite 
groups. Sometimes they are called Qannatians, but 
this name is only applicable to one branch of the sect 
which originated in the district of Sawad between Basra 
and Kufa, and should be reserved for that branch 
which at a later period became alienated from the main 
Isma'ilian body. 

The new sect carried out its propaganda by means 
of missionaries (da'i) on the lines developed by the 
Hashimites. In this, as in most of its external features, 
it reproduces the characteristics usual amongst the 
mediaeval Shi'ites. 

The organiser of the sect or masonic fraternity was 
'Abdullah, who is slated to have been the son of one 
Maymun, Sometimes 'Abdullah is surnamed aU 
laddah (" the oculist "), as is done by Abu 1-Feda, but 
more often this surname is given to his father Maytnun. 
Maqrizi, referring to the Fatimids, says, " this family 


was traced to al-Husayn, the son of ' AH ibn Abi Talib, 
but men are divided in the matter between two opinions : 
some treat it as true, but othens deny that they are 
descendants of the Prophet and treat them as pretenders 
descended from Daysan the Dualist, who has given his 
name to the Dualists, and (say) that Daysan had a son 
whose name was Maymun al-Qaddah, and that he had 
a sect of extreme views. And Maymun had a son 
'Abdullah, and 'Abdullah was learned in all the canon 
kw and customs and sects " (Maqrissi, i. 348). 

The reference to u Daysan the Dualist " is pure 
fable. This Daysan appears frequently in Arabic his- 
tory as the legendary founder of the Zindiqs, a name 
given to the followers of the pre-Islanuc cults of Meso- 
potamia and Persia, who found it convenient to make 
external profession of Islam. Thus Mas'udi (Muruf 
adh-Dhahab, viii. 293) says that " many heresies arose 
after the publication of the books of Mani, Ibn Daysan, 
and Marcion, translated from Persian and Pahlawi by 
'Abdullah ibn al-Muqaffa' and others." Ibn al~ 
Muqaffa' was a converted Zoroastrian who took a 
leading part in translating Persian and Syrian works 
into Arabic under the first two 'Abbasids, and was 
generally regarded as privately adhering to his earlier 
religious views. 

It will be noted that Zindiqism is mentioned as pn> 
pagated by Ibn al-Muqaffa', and is traced to Ibn 
Daysan amongst others, and this is precisely the same 
as the one whom Maqrizi names as the reputed pro- 
genitor of Maymun. Evidently the charge which lay 
at the bottom of this latter statement originally meant 
that Maymun was a Zindiq, and so could be described 
as a follower of Ibn Daysan, not that he actually was 
Ibn Davsan's son, which would be an absurd anachron- 
ism. For the name Ibn Daysan refers to a perfectly 
genuine historical person : the Ibn Daysan of the 
Arabic writers was the Bar Daisan of Syriac literature, 
a convert from paganism to Christianity who died about 
A.D. 222, and whose followers formed an important 
sect at Edessa for several centuries, thought in Muslim 
times he appears as a semi-legendary character. We 
possess a work probably written by one of his pupite 
called " A treatise on Fate " in the Christian writers, 
from which two lengthy extracts appear in Eusebius : 


Praep. Evangel, vi. 9, one of which is cited also in 
Clementine Recognitions ix., but is beaded " Book of 
the Laws of Countries n in the Syriac text discovered 
by Cureton, and published by him in 1855. Various 
references are made to Bar Daisan m Euschius, Epip- 
hanius, and other Church Fathers, as well as in the 
dialogues ascribed to Adamantius, but our best inform- 
ation as to his teaching is to be obtained from Moses 
bar Kepha (Patrol. Syr., I., ii. 513-5), whose summary 
is fully endorsed by the controversial essays of St. 
Ephriam, who settled at Edessa in 363 when the Bar- 
daisanites were a real force there. Bar Daisan's doc- 
trine, which is a kind of Christianized Zoroastrianism, 
is described by Prof. Burkilt in his introduction to 
Mitchell's edition of St. Ephraim's Prose Refutations. 

Marcion represents an earlier and more definitely 
Christian system which at one time had a very wide 
extension, and probably was the medium through which 
Bar Daisan learned Christianity. It was a kind of 
dualistic system with two powers, the Good God and 
the Evil One. The Evil One was the creator whom the 
Jews worshipped as God, and the Good God sent his 
Son on earth to save men from this delusion : as in 
Zoroastrianism the two rival powers maintain an un- 
ceasing strife until the day of judgment when the good 
God will be finally victorious. From St, Ephraim we 
learn that the Marcionites long retained their hold in 
Northern Mesopotamia side by side with the Bar- 

Mani shows very much these same views in a 
Zoroastrian setting, but with a strong element of 
Marcionite Christianity. Mani's work came some 
twenty years later than Bar Daisan, and he, in his early 
days, had been a disciple of the Mandeans, the Gnostic 
sect which Justin Martyr calls " the baptists " 
Paarrurral Jusbn M. Dial 80) from their frequent ablu- 
tions, who were settled in the marsh land between 
Basra and Wasit on the lower Euphrates. All three, 
Bar Daisan, Marcion, and Mani, draw largely from 
the same source the eclectic mixture of old Babylonian 
religion, of Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and Christian- 
ity, which developed in the lower Euphrates valley, 
though Marcion claimed to be, and no doubt believed 


himself, an orthodox member of the Catholic Church, 
whilst Mani was no less confident in regarding himself 
as a Zoroastrian. The whole of the different religious 
ideas of the Euphrates valley were welded together by 
an element of Greek philosophy of the neo-Pythagorean 
type, which seem's to have filtered in through the Jews 
who were settled there in force, and had shared in the 
common life of the Hellenistic world at the time when 
the neo-Pythagorean school was taking form, and 
showing marked sympathy towards the various forms of 
Eastern religious speculation. All this kind of eclectic 
speculation, half religious and half philosophical, lived 
on, and was still alive in the third cent, of the Hijra ; 
indeed, it had spread and formed a new centre at 
Harran, quite distinct in its character, but obviously 
drawing from the same sources, and, moreover, it 
quickened into new life when the speculations of the 
neo-Platonic school were introduced through a Syriac 
medium. Traditionally all this type of thought pre- 
valent in Mesopotamia was connected with the names of 
Marcion, Mani, and Bar Daisan, though probably very 
few Muslims had any clear idea of the respective parts 
these three characters had played, but simply cited them 
as heresiarchs of exceptional notoriety. 

But Maym'un was without doubt a real character. 
Abu 1-Feda refers to him as a native of Qaraj or 
Ispahan, who professed to be a Shi'ite, but was really a 
Zindiq, i.e., a follower of the heresies of Marcion, Bar 
Daisan, and Mani, or else a materialist (Abu LFeda, 
Annales Moslem., ii. 311). Used in this sense 
" materialist " means an Aristotelian, i.e, t one who 
believed in the eternity of matter and so did not accept 
the Qur'anic teaching' of creation ex nihilo. Ibn 
Khaldun states that Maymun migrated to Jerusalem 
with a number of his disciples and became well known 
as a magician, fortune teller, astrologist, and alchemist 
(cf. Quatremfcre: Jowrn. Asiatique, Aug., 1836). The 
Fatimid advocates, as represented by the Druze writers, 
fully admit the descent of the Fatimids from Maymun, 
but claim 1 that he was of the family of AH (cf . De Sacy ; 
Chrestom, ii., note 3 on page 95), which seems as 
thoueh Mayrnun's position as an ancestor of Abdullah's 
family was beyond question. 

In the passage already quoted Maqrizi describes 


'Abdullah as " learned in all the canon law and customs 
and sects," so that it seems that he, the fortune teller's 
son, was credited with being the original teacher and 
founder of the sect. Perhaps Maymun himself was the 
founder of a minor off-shoot of the Isma'ihan body, 
we hear of followers who went with him to Jerusalem, 
and * Abdullah succeeded him as head of this group but, 
himself a student of philosophy like so many other 
Shi'ites, and participating in rationalistic opinions, 
used his position to form a kind of free-masonry, in 
which he developed more fully the principles already 
indicated by Ja'far as-Sadiq, and so made the Aristo- 
telian and neo-Platonic teaching somewhat modified in 
a Persian guise, the " hidden meaning " of the Qur'an. 
Probably he too was responsible for the efficient or- 
ganizing of the sect, although its missionary pro- 
paganda was, as has been noted, reproduced from that 
of the Hashimites. He is said to have been the author 
of a book called al-Mizan, " the balance" (Abulfeda: 
Ann. Mus, t ii. 310). According to Nuwairi, who used 
the history of Abu 1 'Hasan b. 'Ali Akhu-Muhsin, 
himself a descendant of Isma'il b. Ja'far and a con- 
temporary of the chief activity of the Isma'ilian sect, 
'Abdullah assumed Shi'ite views, not because he 
wanted to get men to recognise the Imamate of Isma'il 
or his son Muhammad, but simply as a device to attract 
adherents : such was Akhu-Muhsin 's view, no doubt a 
prejudiced one, but of some weight as undoubtedly the 
judgment of many contemporaries. It is, however, quite 
as probable that the 'Ahd theories were derived from 
the existing sect of which Maymun had been head, 
and were left unaltered by his son when he look it in 

In order to make proselytes, 'Abdullah's missionaries 
used to propose obscure questions about the Our'an 
and the doctrines of traditional Islam, with the"bbject 
of showing that as generally held these doctrines were 
contrary to reason, and so required an explanation. 
The revelation of Islam, they said, was difficult, and 
hence there was much diversity of opinion and many 
sects and schools of thought, all of which caused an 
infinite amount of disedification and much trouble. The 
reason of these diverse opinions is that each man follows 
his own private judgment and forms his own conjeo 


tures, with the result that many end in utter unbelief. 
But God would not give a revelation full of such 
obscurity and ambiguity as the only guidance for men. 
It must be that there is soirie available guidance, some 
authoritative teacher who can explain the doctrine so 
that it may be both clear and certain, and such an 
infallible teacher implies an Imam. The da'i then gave 
illustrations of the obscurities and difficulties which 
men are not able to understand by the light of their 
own reason. The pilgrims at Mecca throw stones and 
run between the two hills, Safa and Merwa, what is 
the purpose and meaning of this ? Why is it that a 
woman who has omitted a fast and prayer because pre- 
vented by reasons of personal impurity is required to 
fast afterwards to make up for her omission, but is not 
required to make up for the omitted prayer ? Why did 
God take six days to create the world when he coujd 
quite well have created it in an hour ? What does the 
Qur'an mean when he refers in a figurative manner 
to the " way " ? What is the meaning of the reference 
to the two angels who write and take note? why 
cannot we see them ? What really are the torments of 
hell? What mean the words "and over them on that 
day eight shall bear up the throne of thy Lord"? 
(Qur., 69, 17). What is Iblis ? Who are Yaiuj and 
Majuj (Qur.. 18, 93), and Harut and Marut (Qur., 2, 
96) ? Why have there been created seven heavens, and 
seven eartns, and why are there seven verses in the 
Fatha? and many similar questions all designed to 
show that the Qur'an is full of references to things 
which are not explained and need explaining, but to 
which the orthodox teachers are unable to give an 
explanation. All these are the conventional arguments 
which are commonly employed to prove that revelation 
is incomplete without an authorised teacher. 

They then continued to ask other questions which 
throw a curious light on the kind of problems which 
interested the ^Muslims of the day, or which could be 
thought as deserving of attention. Why have men ten 
fingers and ten toes? why are four fingers on each 
hand divided into three phalanges, whilst the thumbs 
have only two each ? why has the face seven openings ? 
why are there twelve dorsal vertebrae and seven 
cervical .vertebrae? etc., constantly suggesting some 


mystic meaning as lying under particular numbers. 
They cited " on earth are signs of men of firm belief, 
and also in your own selves ; will ye not them consider 
them? (Qur., 51, 20-21): "God setteth forth these 
similitudes to men that haply they may reflect " (Qur,, 
14, 30), and " we will shew them our signs in (different) 
countries and among themselves, until it become plain 
to them that it is the truth. 1 ' 

These suggestions produced doubt in the minds of 
many hearers, and gave the impression that the mis- 
sionary had thought more deeply on the problems of 
religion than the ordinary teachers ; and so the hearers 
were induced to ask the da'i to instruct them and reveal 
the answers to some of the problems he proposed. 
Forthwith he would begin a discourse dealing with 
some of these questions, and then suddenly check him- 
self : the religion of God is too precious to be disclosed 
to those who are not worthy and who may, perhaps, 
treat it with contempt: God has always required a 
pledge of those to whom he has disclosed his mysteries. 
Thus we read, " And remember that we have entered 
into covenant with the prophets and with thee, and with 
Noah, and Abraham, and Moses, and Jesus the son of 
Mary; and we formed with them a strict covenant " 
(Qur., 33, 7), and again " some there were among the 
faithful who made good what they had promised to 
God " (id., 23), " believers, be faithful to your 
engagements M (Qur., 5, i), " be faithful in the cove- 
nant of God when ye have covenanted, and break not 
your oaths after ye have pledged them : for now ye 
have made God to stand surety for you " (Qur., 16, 93), 
and many similar passages. "So now," the da*i said, 
" pledge yourself, putting your right hand in mine, 
and promise me with the most inviolable oaths and 
assurances that you will not betray our secret, that you 
will assist no-one against us, that you are laying no 
snare for us, that you will use the truth only in speaking 
with us, and that you will not join any ot our enemies 
against us." By this means they discovered how far 
the would-be proselyte was ready to be submissive and 
obedient, and accustomed him to act in absolute con- 
formity with his superiors. If the proselyte readily 
took this pledge, the missionary next said. "Give us 
now an offering from your goods and first fruits which 


shall be a preliminary to the disclosure which we are 
about to make to you of our doctrine, and a pledge 
which you will give for it." By this they tested how 
far the proselyte was prepared to make sacrifices to join 
the sect, and how far he could be trusted to be a loyal 
and devoted member. Thus the proselyte was admitted 
to the First Grade which consisted of those who 
accepted the principle that the Qur'an has both an 
external literal sense and an inner esoteric meaning 
which needs the help of an interpreter. The inner 
meaning was termed batin, or iman, " faith, 11 as dis- 
tinguished from the external Islam, and this distinction 
was justified by the words of Qur. 40, 14. " The Arabs 
of the desert say, ' we believe.' Say : Ye believe not, 
but rather say, ' we profess Islam ' ; for the faith has 
not yet found its way into your hearts." 

The Second Grade. When the disciple had fully 
adopted the ideas taught in the first grade, and was 
convinced that m'en have fallen into error by accepting 
the traditional teachings of Islam, the dai used the 
ordinary arguments to persuade them that there was 
need of an authoritative teacher, and without such a 
teacher men are unable to please God or obey His 
laws. Great stress was laid upon the unreliability of 
private judgment and the need of guidance and 
authoritative teaching. 

Third Grade. The da'i next proceeds to point who 
can be accepted as the desired teacher and infallible 
guide, the Imam of Islam. There have been seven 
such Imams, as worthy of reverence by their religious 
characters as by their number, for the most important 
things in the universe, such as the planets, the heavens 
(Pur. 2, 29; 67, 3), the earths (id. 65, 12, of Bukhari 
Sahih 59, 2) are invariably in sevens. He then enu- 
merates the seven Imams, the first six being 'AH to 
Ja'far as-Sadiq, the seventh al-Ka'im, " the chief ,'* 
whom some understand to be Ja'far's son Isma'il, 
others his grandson Muhammad, whilst others again 
-regard these two as but one. He next endeavoured to 
shqw that the other Shi'ites, who regard Musa as the 
seventh Imam, cannot be correct as they do not limit 
the Imams to the sacred number seven, but continue 
until twelve are reckoned in all. He then was accus- 
tomed to speak against the character of Musa, the son 


of Ja'far, asserting that Isma'il had deep knowledge of 
secret things, whilst Musa possessed no such super- 
natural enlightenment : he told anecdotes which placed 
Musa in an unfavourable light, and even attributed to 
him grave sms, so that it was impossible to regard him 
as the true Imam. Moreover it was agreed that, since 
Husayn, the Imamate can only be passed by direct 
succession, so it is not possible that it could be taken 
from one and given to his brother. The Isma'ilians 
alone have inherited the accurate knowledge of secret 
mysteries bequeathed by Ja'far as-Sadiq to his son 

Fourth Grade. In this grade instruction was given 
in the history of God's revelation. The age of the 
world is divided into seven stages, each under the 
guidance of a prophet whose teaching surpassed that 
of his predecessors and abrogated it. Between each 
pair there were but " silent " guides who did not add 
to nor alter the revelation of the prophet who in- 
augurated that age. Each of these seven prophets, had 
a coajutor who was his authorised exponent to man- 
kind at large. These seven prophets and coadjutors 

(*.) Adam, with coadjutor Seth. 

(tt.) Noah, with coadjutor Shem. 

(fit.) Abraham, with coadjutor Isma'il. 

(iv.) Moses, with coadjutor, at first Aaron, then 

(TJ.) Jesus, with coadjutor Simon Sifa (Cephas). 

(vi.) Muhammad, with coadjutor 'AH. 

(TW.) al-Ka'im, with coadjutor 'Abdullah. 
Thus the seventh prophet al-Ka'im, i.e., Isma'il or his 
son Muhammad, has abrogated the teaching of the 
Prophet Muhammad, and has given a new revelation. 
At this point, therefore, the convert was entirely 
separated from orthodox Islam which accepts Muham- 
mad as the " seal of the prophets," that is to say, the 
final cpmpleter of revelation, and was taught to regard 
his religion as obsolete. 

Fifth Grade. In this grade it was taught that the 
traditional practices of the religion of Islam were 
merely temporary, a concession to the uninstructed 
multitude wno could not yet understand the spiritual 
principles of iman : they were useful as an educative 


influence with the ignorant, but the Qur'anic precepts 
on which some of them were based had an esoteric 
meaning quite other than their literal form, whilst the 
traditional rules which had added so much detail to the 
laws of the Qur'an were baseless and negligible. The 
disciple was taught to replace the external precepts of 
Islam by inner convictions. If he was a Persian he 
was reproached with the servile submission which the 
Persians had rendered to an Arab Khalif : if he were 
an Arab he was instructed that the privileges of the 
Arabs have now been transferred to the Persians. In 
addition to this he was taught certain principles of 
geometry and the properties of numbers, all applied in 
a mystical manner to the claims of the Imamate. He 
was further informed that each prophet had twelve 
hujjaj corresponding to the twelve signs of the zodiac, 
to the twelve months of the year, to the twelve tribes 
of Israel, and to the twelve nugaba' whom Muhammad 
chose from the ansar or " helpers " at Madina. These 
numerals " seven " and " twelve " which have been 
shown to possess sacred meanings, were now cited to 
explain why men have twelve dorsal vertebrae, seven 
cervical vertebrae, etc. It is as well to note that when 
these teachings were first put forth the other Shi'ies 
who followed Musa and his successors had not yet 
made up the number of twelve Imam's. 

Sixth Grade. The missionary did not admit the 
postulant to this grade until he was perfectly assured 
as to his discretion and secrecy. In it the teaching 
that the ritual precepts of Islam as generally under- 
stood, were abrogated, was carried to its logical con- 
clusion, and the convert was instructed to abandon the 
observance of prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, and all the 
other external practices of religion; or at least to 
observe them only in so far as they served as a bond of 
social usage or as expedient as a concession to their 
uninstructed companions. At the same time the 
teacher professed the utmost veneration for the men 
who had established these practices, and for the wisdom 
which had led them to do so. The da'i then described 
to his pupil the doctrines of Plato, Aristotle, Pytha^ 
goras, and other philosophers, and exhorted them not 
to follow the traditions of religion which have been 
passed down as mere hear-say, but to test them by the 


methods of philosophy and to accept only those things 
which are endorsed by reason. Changing his former 
attitude, he then began to criticize the Imams unfavour- 
ably, and to contrast them with the philosophers to 
their disadvantage. 

Seventh Grade* Some of the missionaries were not 
themselves instructed in the doctrines of the highest 
grades, and only a select number were able to initiate 
converts into this seventh stage. This serves as the 
probable explanation of iome events in the history of 
the sect which appear strange at first bight such, for 
example, as the estrangement of the most faithful and 
successful missionary Abu * Abdullah who, no doubt, 
revolted when he found the difference between the 
actual beliefs of the Mahdi r Ubayd allah, and the doc- 
trine which he himself had learned and taught. In 
initiating a disciple into this highest grade the da'i 
first pointed out that there are in this world always 
correlatives, of which one is the cause, the other tne 
result, as giver and recipient, teacher and taught, etc. 
Thus the Qur'an tells us of God that "when he 
decreeth a thing he only saith " be " and it " is " 
(Qur., 3, 42), in which God, the Kirst Cause, is the 
greater, the thing created only derives its being from 
him : and again, " all things have we created after a 
fixed decree " (Qur., 54, 49), and again, " he who is 
God in the heavens is God in earth also " (Qur,, 43, 
84). Hence, following a teaching of the philosophers, 
it is clear that from a Being who is only One, only 
one thing can proceed : but the world contains many 
things, so it cannot be the work of the One, but needs 
at least two Beings. Moreover, creation is not the 
bringing into being that which did not previously 
exist, but only the arrangement and disposing of 
things. At bottom this was intended to be a statement 
of the Aristotelian doctrine of the eternity of matter, 
and shows striking resemblances with the speculations 
of the Mu'tazilites. Thus Abu Hudhayl (d. circ. 226) 
held that before the creation of the world existed, but 
in a state erf perfect quiescence; creation was the 
introduction of change and movement, and this theory, 
in one modification or another, recurs in all the specu- 
lations of the later Mu'tazilites, Very similar is the 
teaching of al-Farabi (d. 339), who wad himself a 


member of the Isma'ilian sect, and held that the world 
proceeded from God in an instant of the immeasurable 
eternity which preceded time, but remained at rest until 
at creation God introduced movement and so produced 
time and change. 

Such was the teaching of the seven grades which 
formed the original constitution of the sect* Later on 
two higher grades were added which, for the sake of 
completeness, we may consider here although they were 
nojJart of the original scheme. 

Eighth Grade. In this the disciple learned that there 
are two Principles, the original and primary Cause, 
without name or attribute, the pre-existent (as sabiq) 
who seems to be very much the same as " the first 
God " of Plotinus, and a Second proceeding from this 
First Cause, due to a thought in the pre-existent, i.e., 
as an emanation, just as the spoken word proceeds 
from the thought in the mind of the speaker. Of the 

re-existent nothing can be stated but what is negative, 
he " Second " seems to be very similar to the Reason 
or Active Intelligence as defined by the philosophers 
on the basis of Alexander of Aphrodisias' explanation 
of the teaching in Aristotle de Anima; not, as in the 
Zoroastnan system, a rival power, but an emanation 
which is an intermediary between the unknowable God 
and man. The true prophet, the da'i declared, is 
shown, not by working miracles which impress the 
vulgar, but by the establishment of political institutions 
which equip a stable and well disposed government, 
and bv the teaching of spiritual doctrines which give 
an explanation of the phenomena of nature. Then, as 
Nuwairi and Maqrizi state, the Qur'an, the resurrec- 
tion, the end of the world, the last judgment, and such 
like doctrines of Islam are explained away as having 
allegorical meanings : according to the batinite doc- 
trine, all these things signify only the revolutions of 
the planets and of the universe in regular rotation, or 
the production and destruction of things according to 
the arrangement and combination of elements, as 
explained in the teachings of the philosophers. 

Ninth Grade. In this grade the disciple was taught 
the doctrines of the philosophers and what they have 
stated about the heavens, the stars, the soul, the 
intelligence, and other like things : in all he was made 


grades which were a later addition were more definitely 
based on the teachings of the Greek philosophers which 
had been popularised in the Muslim world. At the 
same time the disciple learned that Abraham, Moses, 
and the other prophets were only founders of lecal and 
social systems; they had received their learning from 
Plato, and the other philosophers who consequently 
are more important than the prophets commonly 
revered. He was especially taught to abhor the Arabs 
because they had been responsible for slaying Husayn, 
for which crime they were deprived of all rights to the 
Khalifate and Imamate, which were transferred to the 

Maqrizi says that the members of 'Abdullah sect who 
attained to the highest grade became mu'attil and ibahi 
(Maq. i. 348). Strictly speaking the former term 
denotes one who denies that the universe has a creator, 
and therefore implies that the initiated held the doctrine 
common to most of the Arabic "philosophers M of the 
eternity of matter. This teaching was one of the 
leading charges brought by the orthodox Muslims 
against Aristotle, The second term seems to mean 
" one who admits as (or makes) allowable," and 
implies what would be described as antinomianism. 
Maqrizi continues that the initiated " did not any 
longer recognize any moral law, nor expect either 

B.mishment or future reward'* (id.V The historian 
uwayri gives the same account of the Qarmatian 
branch of the Isma'ilian sect* Such antinomianism is 
not at all unknown amongst Muslim devotees : thus 
Maqrizi (ii. 432) in another passage refers to the 
Qalandariya darwishes as a type of Sufis who disregard 
fasting and prayer, and have no reluctance to use any 
form of self-indulgence, saying that it is sufficient that 
their hearts are at peace with God. These darwishes 
were of Persian origin and appeared in Syria in the 
7th cent. A.H., but their order had its beginning in the 
5th cent, Antinomian ideas appear with the later 
Murji'ites of the 2nd cent,, and are represented in the 
doctrines of Jahm b. Safwan, who was put to death 
about 131, and was, characteristically enough, a 
Persian convert in rebellion against the Arab Khalif. 
Amongst these Murji'ites we find the doctrine of 
to assume the system of those who believed in the 


eternity of matter. Thus it will be seen the two highest 
taqiya or " concealment," which afterwards became 
common amongst the Shi'ites, the doctrine, namely, 
that profession of faith means only the confession of 
the soul to God, it being allowable that the true 
believer outwardly conforms to any religion. 

Nuwayri also gives the form of contract proposed to 
a convert at the time of his initiation. This appears in 
two parts, to each of which the convert gives assent. 
They may be summarised thus : 

(1) A promise before God, and before his Apostle, 
his prophets, angels, and envoys, to inviolable secrecy 
as to all the convert knows about the missionary, about 
the representative of the Imam in the district where 
he lives, as well as regarding all other members of the 
sect. A pledge to accept all the orthodox teachings of 
Islam, and to observe all its rites, both matters which, 
as we have seen, were required of the lower grades 
and disregarded by the higher ones. 

(2) A pledge to loyalty towards the missionaries and 
the Imam, and the invocation of the curse of Iblis if 
this pledge is broken. " If you have any reservation, 
in will or thought, this oath nevertheless has full 
binding force upon you, and God will take no satis- 
faction other than the complete fulfilment of all it 
contains and of the agreements made between you 
and me*" 

This oath, it will be observed, is intended for those 
initiated into the first grade, and so conforms to the 
idea of orthodox Islam, though including the Shi'ite 
doctrine of an Imam, but covers all that is to be taught 
later with a veil of secrecy. The plan was to adapt the 
earlier teaching to the beliefs and capacity of the 
proselytes, and this method is further illustrated by the 
kitab as-siyasa or "book of policy," a manual for the 
guidance of the du'at, which Nuwayri describes on the 
authority of Abu I-Hasan. 

According to this the teacher is told to emphasize his 
zeal for Shi'ite theories if he has to deal with a Shi'ite, 
to express sympathy with 'AH and his two sons, and 
repugnance towards the Arabs who put them to death, 
If he has to deal with a Sabian, emphasis was laid on 
the reverence paid to the numeral seven, If his con- 
versation was with a Zoroastrian, his principles are at 


the basis very similar to those of the Isma'ilians, and 
with him the da'i may commence at the fourth grade. 
If his business is with a Jew, he should explain that 
the Mahdi Muhammad b. Isma'il is the Messiah 
expected by the Jews and speak much against the 
Muslims and Christians, especially about their erron- 
eous beliefs as to the unique birth of Christ, making 
it plain that Joseph the carpenter was undoubtedly his 
father. With Christians, on the contrary, it is advised 
to speak ill of the Muslims and Jews, explaining that 
the Isma'ilians recognise the Christian creed, but 
giving it an allegorical interpretation, and showing 
that the Paraclete is yet to come, and is the true Imam 
to whom they are invited to come. In dealing with 
dualists or Manichaeans the da'i may begin at the sixth 
grade of initiation, or if the convert seems worthy of 
confidence, the whole doctrine may be revealed at once. 
With one of the " philosophers " who, in true Muslim 
fashion, are treated as a distinct sect, emphasis is to be 
laid on the fact that the essential points of the Isma'ilian 
faith are based on the teachings of philosophy, and 
the sect agrees with them in everything* concerning the 
prophets and the eternity of the world; but some of 
the philosophers differ from the Isma'ilians in 
admitting a Being who rules the world, though con- 
fessing that he is unknown. With " dualists," i.e., 
Muslims of the sect so called (cf. De Sacy : Druses, 
jp. Ixviii., note 3), victory is sure; it is only necessary 
to dwell on the doctrine of the pre-existing and the 
second. With orthodox Sunnis the missionary is to 
speak with respect of the early Khalifs, avoid eulogies 
upon 'Ali and his sons, even mentioning some things 
about them which call for disapproval : great pains 
should be taken to secure Sunni adherents as they 
form most useful defenders. When dealing with a 
Shi'ite who accepts Musa, the son of Ja'far, and his 
descendants, great care is necessary : the da'i should 
dwell on the moral laws of Islam, but explain the 
sacred associations of the number seven. With some 
it is impossible to venture further and show that the 
religion of Muhairtmad is now abrogated, with others 
it Is possible even to show that the ritual laws of the 
Qur'an are obsolete, with a few he may proceed to 
admit that the Ka'im is really dead, that he comes 


back to the world only in a spiritual manner, and 
explain allegorically the doctrine of the resurrection of 
the dead. Each is to be dealt with according to his 
beliefs, and care must be taken not to offend his re- 
ligious prejudices. The da'i is advised to study the 
history of ancient legislators, their adventures, systems 
and sects, so as to have a fund of illustration which 
will arrest the attention of their pupils. 

Such was the system formed by 'Abdullah, probably 
somewhere before A.H. 250, and by him grafted on the 
already existing sect of Shi'ites, which upheld the 
claims of Isma'il, the son of Ja'far. In the reign of 
Ma'mun (A.H. 198-218) 'Abdullah had joined the 
revolt of Ishaq b. Ibrahim at Karkh and Ispahan, and 
formed a close friendship with the wealthy Muhammad 
b, Husayn b. Jihan-Bakhtar ad-Didan, a Persian 
prominent for his intense hatred of the Arabs, and it 
was he who first supplied 'Abdullah with funds to 
begin his propaganda (cf. Quatrem&re in Journ. Asiat., 
Aug., 1836). It is not easy to form any clear scheme 
of the chronology of the sect in its early days, nor to 
follow the details of its history : conspiracies and 
secret societies do not leave much in the way of docu- 
mentary evidence of their first formation. That 
'Abdullah was associated with a rebellion in the reign 
of Ma'mun is hardly likely; it seems rather that 
Muhammad b* Husayn ad-Didan (Dandan, or Zaydan) 
was so associated, and he afterwards befriended 
'Abdullah. This Muhammad was secretary to Ahmad 
ibn 'Abdu l-'Aziz ibn Abi Dolaf, who became prince 
of Karaj in A.H. 265. No doubt 'Abdullah was a 
younger contemporary, assisted by the old anti-Arab 
agitator. Certainly 'Abdullah was established at 
Basra, whither he had removed from Persia, before 261 
(Fihrist, 187), lodging there with the family of 'Agil 
ibn Abi Talib. Thence he went to Syria, presumably 
finding suspicion aroused at Basra, and made his head- 
quarters at Salarniya in the territory of Emessa (Maq. 
i. t 348-9: ii., n), and from there sent out missionaries 
who preached the claims of Muhammad b. Isma'il b. 
Ja'far as the " concealed " Imam, and of 'Abdullah 
himself as the Mahdi or " guide," who was to prepare 
men for the Imam's return to earth (Maq. i., 345). At 
Salamiya he had a son named Ahmad, and when he 
died Ahmad succeeded him as head of the sect. 


Ahmad, like his father, sent out missionaries, and 
one of these was instrumental in founding the important 
brach known as the Qarmatians, a branch so important 
and prominent that some, e.g., Jamal ad-Din, have 
regarded the Isma'ilians as their offshoot. The fact 
seems to be that there were at first members of one 
body, then circumstances gave the Qarmatians a 
political opening in Syria and 'Iraq, and, in a position 
of independence, they developed their doctrines more 
openly than the rest of the sect and, being drawn from 
the peasant class, these assumed a grosser form : 
whilst the other or parent community found a career 
in Africa but, as they became there a ruling minority 
with a subject majority of orthodox type, they were 
induced to observe some semblance of orthodoxy. 

'Abdullah was succeeded as head of the Isma'ilian 
sect by his son Ahmad. According to the Fihrist he 
was succeeded first by his son Muhammad, then by a 
second son Ahmad, the latter being also described as 
the son of Muhammad, and so grandson of 'Abdullah 
(Fihiist, p. 137). This Ahmad may be the one who 
was at Basra for some time, then at Kufa, whence in 
266 or thereabouts he sent missionaries to Yemen; 
possibly he was the Ahmad al-Qaiyal who wrote a book 
on the Imamate, which was refuted by Razi (d. 320). 

After Ahmad came his son Husayn, who died not 
long afterwards, leaving a son named Sa'id, who sub- 
sequently took the name of 'Ubayd Allah, and was the 
Mahdi who established the Fatimid State in North 
Africa, dying in A.H. 323 (=A.D. 934). That he was 
originally called Sa'id is generally admitted, but he 
appears variously as Sa'id son of Husayn son of 
Almad, and Sa'id son of Ahmad, and Sa'id son of 
Abu Shalaghlagh. The explanation given for these 
different names is that AJrmad had two sons, of whom 
the elder, Husayn, died whilst Sa'id was still young, 
and the son was adopted by his uncle Muhammad, the 
second son of Ahmad, who was also known as Abu 

There is a story that Sa'id or 'Ubayd Allah was the 
soft of an obscure Jewish smith, whose widow was 
married to Husayn, son of Ahmad, and that he was 
adopted by his step-father. This is one of the three- 
forms of what we may <all <he " Jewish legend," the 



attempt to trace the Fatimid dynasty to a Jewish 
source. These three attempts are : (i.) that Maymun b. 
Daysan the oculist was a Jew; (ii.) that 'Ubayd Allah 
was really the son of a Jewish smith; and (iii.) that he 
was killed in prison at Sijilmassa, and afterwards per- 
sonated by a Jewish slave. Probably the " Jewish 
legend " was associated with the fact that the renegade 
jew, Ibn Killis, was the one who encouraged the 
Fatimids to invade Egypt and did most to organise 
their government there, and with the undoubted 
favouritism 1 which the early Fatimids showed the Jews. 

A new development in the teaching of the sect took 
place under Husayn, or possibly commenced under his 
father Ahmad. 'Abdullah had been content to describe 
himself as the " Mahdi " or guide, who was to lead 
men to the Imam, who was Isma'il, or his son 
Muhammad; he made no claim to be himself a 
descendant of the Imam. Probably it was a later 
theory that the Imam was "concealed" only in the 
sense that he had to hide himself from 1 the 'Abbasid 
Khalif. Later still, when a Fatimid Khalif was 
actually ruling in Cairo, the claim to descent from 'Ali 
through * Abdullah and his family became a matter of 
heated controversy. 

Historians differ very much as to how far the 
Fatimids succeeded in proving their *Alid descent, and 
contemporary opinion was quite as varied. Abu 
1-Hasan Muhammad Masawi, commonly known as 
Radi, born at Baghdad in 359 and dying in 406, was 
himself an undoubted descendant of Husayn the son 
of 'Ali, and was official keeper of the records of 'Alid 
genealogy. As Abu 1-Feda notes (Ann. MosL, ii. 309) 
he, in one of his poems, fully admits the legitimate 
descent of the Fatimids of Egypt from 'Ali, and the 
actual passage is extant (cf. Diwan of Radi, Beirflt, 
p. 972) : but in 402 this same Radi joined with other 
'Alids and certain canonists in a proclamation de- 
nouncing the Fatimids and declaring their claimed 
genealogy as baseless. It is natural to suppose that 
in this he was actuated by fear or complaisance, and 
this difficulty meets us throughout ; the whole question 
was so much a matter of current political controversy 
that it was practically impossible to get anything like 
an unbiassed opinion. Maqrizi, the leading Egyptian 


authority of a later age, was strongly pro-Fatimid, but 
he claims the noble rank of sayyid on the ground of 
descent from 'Ali through the Fatimids, and so is pre- 
judiced in their favour. He argues that the 'Alid 
descent of the Fatimids was never attacked by the 
acknowledged 'Alids who then existed in considerable 
numbers (Maq. i., 349), an argument which is far from 
being true. 

Elsewhere Maqrizi defends the Fatiraid claims by 
saying that the 'Alids were always suspected by the 
'Abbasid Khalifs, and so " they had no resort but to 
conceal themselves and were scarcely known, so that 
Muhammad b. Isma'il, the Imam ancestor of 'Ubayd 
Allah, was called the * concealed ' " (Maq, i., 349). 
But this tells the other way : it admits that the *Alid 
genealogy was not well known : and the mere fact that 
"Abdullah was sought for by the Khalif simply shows 
that his pretensions were known to be dangerous, as 
a Mahdi with a body of followers would necessarily 
be, and is no proof of the validity of the descent after- 
wards claimed by 'Abdullah's descendants. The ob- 
scurity of the 'Alid genealogy afterwards favoured the 
Fatimid claims, but it does not seem that that claim 
was part of their original programme. The first idea 
was to support the claims of the vanished Imam, claims 
selected in all probability because of the convenient 
fact that he had vanished, and to represent 'Abdullah 
and his descendants simply as Mahdis, viceroys to 
guide and direct the people of Islam until the day 
came for the concealed Imam to be revealed again. 

After the Fatimid claims had been laid before the 
world the 'Abbasids brought forward many calumnies 
(Maq. i., 349). The strongly anti-Fatimid Ibn 
Khallikan relates a story that when the first Fatimid 
Khalif to enter Egypt, al-Mo'izz, came to Cairo, the 
jurist, Abu Muhammad ibn Tabataba, came to meet 
him 1 , supported by a number of undoubted members 
of 'Ali f s family, and asked to see his credentials. 
Al-Mo'izz then drew his sword and cried, "Here is 
my pedigree " : and scattering gold amongst the by- 
standers added, '" And this is my proof." The story 
is an improbable legend, and even Ibn Khallifcan 
rejects it on the ground that when al-Mo'izz entered 


Cairo, Abu Muhammad the jurist (d. 348) had been 
many years in his grave (Ibn Khali, iii., 366). 

The weakest part of the Fatimid claim, as we have 
remarked, lies in the great diversity of forms the claim 
takes in different writers. When 'Ubayd Allah or 
Sa'id, 'Abdullah's great-grandson, established himself 
in Africa, the genealogy began to call for serious 
attention, and came to be examined, not by uncritical 
members of the sect, but by all the historians and 
genealogists of the Muslim world. It then appeared in 
no less than nine divergent forms. 

(1) Traced through Ja'far as-Sadiq the sixth Imam, 
then through his son Isma'il, his son Muhammad "the 
concealed, " then Ja'far al-Musaddiq Muhammad al- 
Habib ^ind then Ubayd Allah. Thus Maqrizi and 
Ibn Khaldun. According to this 'Abdullah and 
Ahmad do not appear in the descent at all. 

(2) Traced through Ja'far to Muhammad " the con- 
cealed " as in the preceding, then 'Abdullah ar-Rida 
(the accepted of God), Ahmad al-Wafi (the perfect, 
al-Husayn at-Taki (the pious, and Ubayd Allah the 
Mahdi. This appears in Ibn Khallikan and Ibn 
Khaldun, and seems to have been more or less the 
official version. According to this 'Abdullah, the 
father of Ahmad, was the son of Mohammad " the 
concealed, " not of Maymun. Similarly the pro- 
Fatimid author of the Dastur al~Munajjimin (MS. of 
M. Schefer, cited by de Goeje Qarmates, pp. 8-9), who 
says that Muhammad b. Isma'il took refuge in India; 
he had six sons, Ja'far, Isma'il, Ahmad, Husayn, 'Ali, 
and 'Abdu r-Rahman, but does not mention 'Abdullah 
nor say which of these sons was the Imam : he then 
refers to the three " mysterious ones " as succeeding 
Muhammad. Tabari (iii., 2218, 12) says that Muham- 
rrtad b, Isma'il had no son named 'Abdullah. 

(3) As before, but Maymun as son of Muhammad 
"the concealed/ 1 then 'Abdullah Muhammad 
Ubayd Allah; thus in Abu 1-Feda. Maymun is made 
the son of the seventh Imam (which is impossible), and 
the Mahdi is represented as 'Abdullah's grandson (see 

(4) Isma'il, son of Ja'far, Muhammad " the con- 
cealed, " Isma'il, Ahmad, Ubayd Allah. This 
also occurs in Abu 1-Feda, and in Ubavd Allah's 


11 Genealogy of the 'Alids " (MS. Leiden, 686 cited 
by de Goeje, Qarmakes, p. 9) Muhammad had three 
sons, Isma'il II, Ja'far, and Yahya; Isma'il had a 
son named 'Ahmad, who dwelt in the Maghrab. 

'(5) Isma'il Muhammad " the concealed," Isma'il 
II, Muhammad, 'Ahmad, 'Abdullah, Mu- 
hammad, Husayn, Ahmad or ' Abdullah, Ubayd 
Allah the Mahdi. This is the genealogy given in the 
sacred books of the Druses, and rests on the theory 
that there must have been seven "concealed Imams" 
intervening between Ja'far as-Sadiq and the Mahdi. 
It is merely an instance of the mystic value attached 
to the sacred numeral. Like (3) it gives Muhammad 
for Ahmad which is a permissible variant. 

(6) The five preceding genealogies are distinctively 
Isma'ilian in character, but there are others which 
show adaptations of the " Twelvers " accounts, and 
these cannot be much more than later attempts to 
connect the Fatimid line with that recognised by the 
other Shi'ites. First we have the idea that the descent 
from Ja'far as-Sadiq was through Musa, not Isma'il, 
then following the next three Imams 'Ali ar-Rida 
Muhammad al-Jawad 'Ali al-Hadi (see above) al- 
Hasan al-Askari Ubayd Allah the Mahdi. Accord* 
ing to this the Fatimite Mahdi in Africa was the son 
of the eleventh Imam of the " Twelvers," and thus 
replaced Muhammad al-Muntazar. 

(7) The same line as the preceding, but admitting 
Muhammad al-Muntazar as twelfth Imam who " dis- 
appeared" in 260, and asserting lhat c Ubayd Allah who 
appeared in North Africa was this same Muhammad 
emerging from concealment, after an interval of 29 

(8) The same line as far as 'Ali al-Hadi, then 
Husayn, presumably a brother of Hasan al-Askari, and 
Ubayd Allah as son of this Husayn, This is given by 
Ibn Khallikan on the authority of a reference in Ibn 
al-Athir. All these three last genealogies must be 
dismissed as later suggestions since it is clear that the 
Isma'ilian sect rejected the Imam's of the " Twelvers " 
after Ja'far as-Sadiq : but it may be that Ahmad's first 
claim was simply to be an ''Alid, and not necessarily 
the son of the house of Isma'il. 


(9) Finally we have another theory, mentioned by 
Ibn Khallikan, that the Mahdi was descended from 
Hasan, a brother of Ja'far as-Sadiq, and so an Alid 
but not an Imam, and from this Hasan came 'Abdullah, 
'Ahmad, Hasan, and then C AH or Ubayd Allah the 
Mahdi. Back to 'Abdullah this was the generally 
asserted genealogy of the Mahdi's family, but Hasan, 
the brother of Ja far, replaces Maymun. 

The chief point is that there were so many alternative 
forms of the genealogy, and close scrutiny shows very 
weak points in every one of them. To the fully 
initiated this was a very small matter, as no importance 
was attached to the claim to the Imamate or to the 
descent from c Ali at all. No doubt all these pedigrees 
served their purpose in dealing with the different types 
of proselytes, and their very diversity tends to prove 
that they were actually accepted and circulated in a 
sect which adapted its teachings to suit the opinions of 
the different classes with which it came into contact. 
It was not until the Fatimids became a political power 
that any need was felt to bring these various genealo- 
gies into any kind of agreement, and then, no doubt, 
the variant forms circulated by the different mission- 
aries were a source of embarrassment. 



WE turn now to the formation of the important branch 
of the Ism'a'ilian sect known as the Qarmatians, which 
is particularly interesting as we have detailed accounts 
of its formation which show how the propaganda 
worked, and illustrate the ease with which an armed 
group could set up an independent robber state in this 
period of the decay of the Khalifate. Of the history 
of their founding there are two leading narratives 
slightly divergent in details, which De Goeje (pp. 13- 
17) calls A, and B. A. given by De Sacy (Druses, pp. 
clxvi,, etc.) is that of Nuwayn, who drew his inform- 
ation from Akhu Muhsin, who obtained it from Ibn 
Razzam, and the substance, drawn from the same 
sources, appears in the Fihnst. B- (in De Sacy clxxi., 
etc.) is really the account given by Tabari, and is based 
on the description given by a person who had been 
present at the examination of Zaqruyah the Qarmatian 
by Muhammad b. Dawud b. al-Jarrah. The A. 
account is as follows* 

One of Ahmad's missionaries named Husayn 
Ahwazi was sent to labour in the district of Kufa 
known as the Sawad. As he was travelling he met a 
man named Hamdan b. Ashhath al-Qarmati, who was 
leading an ox with forage on its back. Husayn asked 
him the way to a place named Kass-Nahram, and 
Hamdan replied that he was going there himself. Then 
Husayn asked him where was a place named Daw, 
and Hamdan told him that was his home. So they 
went on together. Then Hamdan says: " You seem 
to have come a long way and to be very tired : get on 
this ox of mine." But Husayn declined, saying that 
he had not been told to do so, Hamdan remarked : 
" You speak as though you acted according to the 


orders which some one had given you." Husayn 
admitted that this was so. " And who," Hamdan 
asked, " it is then from whom you receive these orders 
and prohibitions?" Husayn replied: "It is my 
master and yours, the master of this world and of the 
world to come." After some reflection Hamdan said: 
" There is only God most High who is master of all 
things." " True," replied Husayn, " but God en- 
trusts control to whom he pleases." Hamdan then 
asked, " What do you intend to do in the village to 
which you have asked to be directed?" " I am going," 
said Husayn, " to bring to many people who dwell 
there a knowledge of the secrets of God. I have 
received orders to water the village, to enrich the in- 
habitants, to deliver them, and to put them in possession 
of their masters' goods." Then he began to persuade 
Hamdan to embrace his teaching. Hamdan said : " I 
beseech you in the name of God to reveal to me what 
you possess of this wisdom : deliver it to me, and God 
will deliver you." " That," said Husayn, " is a thing 
I cannot do, unless I previously get from you an 
undertaking and bind you in the name of God by a 
promise as an oath like that which God has always 
exacted from his prophets and apostles. After that I 
shall be able to tell you things which will be useful to 
you," Hamdan continued to urge, and at last Husayn 
gave way, and as they sat by the roadside Husayn 
administered the oath to him and asked his name. 
Hamdan replied that he was commonly known as the 
Qarmat, and invited Husayn to take up his abode with 
him. So Husayn went to his house and gained many 
converts from Hamdan's kinsmen and neighbours. 
There he stayed for some time, arousing in his host 
and others the strongest admiration of the ascetic and 
pious life he led, fasting by day, and watching by 
night. He worked as a tailor, and it was generally 
felt that the garments which had passed through his 
hands were consecrated. When the date harvest came 
a learned and wealthy citizen of Kufa named Abu 
* Abdullah Muhammad b. 'Umar b. Shabab Adawi, 
hearing good reports of him, made him guardian of his 
date garden, and found him scrupulous in his attention 
and honesty, Husayn revealed his doctrines to this 
employer, but he saw through the piety which had 


impressed the villagers and understood that he was a 
conspirator. Before his death Husayn appointed 
Hamdan as da'i in his place. This is an outline of the 
narrative of the origin of Uie Qarmatians, so called as 
the followers of Hamdan the Qarmat, according to the 
Sherif Abu 1-Hasan as reported in the history of 

Gregory Bar Hebraeus gives a different account which 
appears also in Bibars Mansun and in another part of 
Nuwayri who cites the authority of Ibn Athir, and 
this is the second account which de Goeje calls B. 
According to it a Persian of Khuzistan established 
himself in the Nahrayn or district between the rivers, 
near Hufa, and soon drew attention by the asceticism 
and piety of his life. When anyone went and sat by 
him he used to discourse about religion and try to 
induce his hearers to renounce the world; he taught 
that it was a matter of obligation to pray fifty times 
a day, and that it was his office to guide men to the 
true Imam whose abode he knew. Some merchants 
purchased the produce of the garden in which this 
recluse had taken up his abode, and enquired for a 
trustworthy watchman to look after their property. 
The gardener introduced the recluse to them, and they 
gave nim charge of the produce. When they came to 
take away their dates they paid the watchman, and he, 
on his part, paid the gardener for the dates supplied 
to him, deducting a rebate for the stones. The mer- 
chants saw this reckoning going on, and supposed that 
he had been selling some of their dates, so they struck 
him, saying, " Is it not enough that you have eaten 
our dates? is it for you also to sell the stones?" The 
gardener then spoke up and told them the facts, and 
when they perceived their error they made their 
apologies and conceived a very high opinion of his 
rectitude and probity. Some time later he fell ill, and 
the gardener sent for a certain villager commonly 
known as Qaramita, a word which in the Nabataean 
language means a man with red eyes. This villager's 
real name is not given, but Tabari adds that Muhammad 
b. Dawud b. al-Jarrah said to someone that he was 
called Hamdan. He was an owner of oxen which were 
used to carry the produce of Sawad to the city of Kufa. 
He took the sick man to his house and there the devotee 


stayed until he was quite well, and whilst there taught 
the Qaramita the doctrines of the sect to which he 
belonged, and also instructed the villagers. From 
amongst his converts he chose twelve nakibs, in 
imitation of Moses and Jesus, and sent them out as 
missionaries. He required his followers to pray fifty 
times a day, and as a result the work of the villagers 
fell into arrears. A certain Haysam who possessed 
property in the village perceived this and made 
enquiry as to the reason; this led him into contact 
with the devotee who was induced to reveal to him his 
peculiar doctrines. Haysam perceived their subversive 
character and took him to Kufa where he locked him 
up in his house, but a female servant who was moved 
by the captive's apparent piety stole the key and set 
him free. In the morning the room was found empty, 
and this was reported as a miracle. Soon afterwards 
the devotee re-appeared to the villagers and told them 
that he had been set free by angels, and then he escaped 
to Syria. After his departure the Qaramata continued 
to preach and expand the doctrines which he had 
learned, and in this was assisted by the other nakibs. 
According to Ibn Athir, cited by Nuwayri, this 
Qaramat or Hamdan was a man who " affected a 
religious life, detached from the world and mortified/ 1 
and " when anyone joined his sect Hamdan took a 
piece of gold from him, saying that it was for the Imam. 
From them (i.e., his followers) he chose twelve nakibs 
whom he charged to call men to his religion, saying 
that they were the apostles of Isa b. Mary am." 

The A. text refers to Husayn's death, the B. text 
says that he went to Syria. Tabari speaks of the 
devotee as coming from Khuzistan, but Akhu Muhsin 
says that he was sent by Ahmad from Salamiya. De 
Goeje (p. 1 8) suggests that he may have been Ahmad's 
son Husayn. According to the Kitab aLOyun (MS. 
Berlin, 69 cited by de Goeje) Sa'id, the son of 
Husayn, the son of Ahmad, the son of 'Abdullah, was 
born at Salamiya in 259 or 260. But evidently there 
is some error here. Husayn was the grandson, not the 
son, of Abdullah, and the head of the sect did not leave 
Askar Mokram before 266: probably not until after 


the repression of the slave rebellion in 270. No open 
revolt of the Qanriatians took place until 286. 

In his Chronicle Bar Hebraeus applies to the sect of 
the Nusayri all that he says about the Qarmatians, and 
so the books of the Druses in their references to the 
Nusayri prove that they hold very much the same 
doctrines as the Isma'ihans. It is supposed that the 
Nusayri sect is a survival of an ancient pagan com- 
munity (cf . Ren Dussand : Hist, et religion des 
Nosairis, Paris, 1900). This fits in with the advice 
given to the missionaries that Manichaean converts 
may be admitted to a higher grade without hesitation. 

After this rather confused account of the foundation 
of the sect of Qarmatians we find ourselves on surer 
ground. It is clear that Hamdan surnamed the 
Qarmati was the convert chosen to act as head of the 
branch founded near Kufa, and he seems to have been 
diligent in sending out missionaries throughout the 
whole district of Sawad, where success was easy as the 
oppressed Nabataean villagers were still groaning 
under the tyranny of the Arab colonists of the two 
camp-cities, Kufa and Basra. Not only were the 
peasants won over in large numbers, but many of the 
dissatisfied Arab tribes were also gained : these, it will 
be understood, were those tribes which had had no 
share in the wealth acquired by the Khalif and his 
followers. At first Hamdan required each proselyte 
to pay a piece of silver, corresponding to the fitr or 
legal alms which Muslims are expected to pay at the 
end of Ramadan* Then he exacted a piece of gold 
from each person on attaining the age of reason, a 
tribute which he called hijra or " flight," perhaps 
because intended for the maintenance of a place of 
refuge called the " house of flight." Later again he 
demanded seven pieces of gold which he termed bulgha 
or " livelihood." He prepared a choice banquet, and 
gave a small portion to each of those who gave him 
tne seven pieces of gold, saying that it was the food 
of the dwellers in paradise sent down to the Imam. He 
next levied a fifth of all their possessions, basing hid 
claim on the words of the Qur'an, " And know ye, 
that when ye have taken any booty, a fifth part 
belon^eth to God and to His Apostle " (Qur, 8, 42). 
Next he required them to deposit all their goods in a 


common fund, a reminiscence of the communism 
taught in pre-Islamic times by the Persian prophet 
Mazdak, and justified this by the passages, ' 'Remember 
God's goodness towards you, how that when ye were 
enemies, He united your hearts, and by His favour ye 
became brethren" (Qur. 3, 98), and " Hadst thou 
spent all the riches of the earth, thou couldst not have 
united their hearts ; but God hath united them, for He 
is Mighty, Wise " (Qur, 8, 64). He told them that 
they had no need of money because everything on earth 
belonged to them, but he exhorted them to procure 
arms. All this took place in the year 276. 

The da'i chose in each village a man worthy of con- 
fidence, and in his charge they placed the property of 
the inhabitants. By this means clothes were provided 
for those who were without, and all had their needs 
supplied so that there was no more poverty. All 
worked diligently, for rank was made to depend on a 
man's utility to the community; no one possessed any 
private property save sword and arms. Then it is said 
the da'i assembled men and women together on a 
certain night, and encouraged them to indulge in 
promiscuous intercourse. After this, assured of their 
absolute obedience, he began to teach them the more 
secret doctrines of the sect, and so deprived them of all 
belief in religion, and discouraged the observance of 
external rites such as prayer, Fasting, and the like. 
This was the distinctive mark of the Qarmatian 
branch : the initiated were no longer a small minority 
living in the midst of their fellow sectarians who still 
adhered to the external forms of Islam, but amongst 
the Qarmatians all were initiated to the fullest extent in 
all the teachings of the sect. Before long they began 
to steal and to commit murders, so that they produced 
a reign of terror in the vicinity. Then the da'is felt 
that the time was ripe for open revolt, and selected a 
village in the Sawad called Mahimabad, near the river 
Euphrates, and within the royal domain as their rally- 
ing place or " house of flight " ; thither they carried 
large stones, and in a short time surrounded it with a 
strong wall and erected a building in the midst, in 
which a great many persons could be assembled and 
where goods oould be stored. This took place in 277, 

At this time the Khalifate was weak, and this 


favoured the lawless movements of the villagers who 
now came to be known as Qarmatians from their 
leader. Their head, Hamdan the Qarmati, meanwhile 
kept up constant correspondence with the leaders of 
the sect at Salamiya. After the death of Ahmad his 
son and successor wrote a letter to Hamdan, but he 
was not satisfied with its contents : he observed that 
this letter differed considerably in expression from 
those which he had previously received, and contained 
matters which did not seem to agree with the teaching 
he had received, so he concluded that the responsible 
heads had changed their policy. To make sure he sent 
a trusty follower named Abdan to Salamiya to find out 
how matters stood. Abdan arrived there, learned 
about the death of Ahmad and the succession of his 
son Husayn, and had an interview with this latter. In 
that interview he asked who was the Imam to whom 
they owed obedience, and Husayn replied by the 
counter question, " Who then is the Imam?" Abdan 
replied, " It is Muhammad the son of Isma'il tb~ son 
of Ja'far, the master of the world, to whose obedience 
your father called men, and whose hujja he was," 
Husayn showed some annoyance at this reply, and 
said : " Muhammad the son of Isma'il has no rights in 
all this; there has never been any other Imam than 
my father who was descended from Maymun b. Daysan, 
and to-day I take his place." By this reply Abdan 
discovered the real nature of the sect, or at least its 
present policy. He then returned to the Qarmati and 
told him what he had discovered, and by his orders all 
the du'at were called together and informed of what 
Abdan had discovered and advised to stop their pro- 
paganda. As a result the preaching came to an end 
in the districts about Kufa, but they were not able to 
check it in remoter parts, and they ceased all corre- 
spondence with the leaders at Salamiya. 

Then one of the sons of Ahmad who had been on a 
visit to Talakan tried to see the Qarmati on his return 
journey, but was unable to find him. He therefore 
called on Abdan and reproached him for ceasing to 
correspond with Salamiya. Abdan replied that he had 
left off preaching and desired to sever his connection 
with the sect as he had discovered that they were not 
really loyal to the house of *Ali, -but were supporting 


an Imam of the family of Maymun: he only asked 
God's pardon for what he had previously done in error. 
When the visitor saw that he had nothing to hope from 
Abdan, he turned to another da'i named Zaqruya b. 
Mahruya and discussed with him Abdan's attitude. 
Zaqruya received him well, and it was agreed that he 
should be established as chief da'i in the district and, 
in return would resume the former relations with 
Salamiya. To this Zaqruya assented, but objected 
that, so long as Abdan was alive all efforts would be 
fruitless, as all revered him as a leader. They agreed 
therefore to get rid of Abdan. For this end Zaqruya 
collected a number of his neighbours, informed them 
that the hujja or earthly representative of the Imam 
was dead, and that his son was now occupying his 
place. The people expressed the greatest respect 
towards the new hujja, and declared their readiness to 
carry out his commands. He told them that they were 
to kill Abdan as he had proved to be a rebel and 
apostate. Next night Abdan was killed. When, 
however, it came to be known that it was Zaqruya who 
had brought about his death the Qaranates were in- 
dignant, and Zaqruya had to flee for his life and hide 
himself, and advised the representative from Salamiya 
who seems to have remained with him, to leave the 
neighbourhood. This took place in 286. 

During the rest of that year, and the year following, 
the Qarmatians were busy hunting for Zaqruya who 
was compelled to move from place to place, and finally 
retired to a subterranean retreat. When he went into 
the village near his hiding place a woman who lived 
in the house used to make bread on the stone which 
covered the entrance to the concealed cave so as to 
disarm suspicion, 

In 288 the search seemed to be relaxed, and then 
Zaqruya sent his son Hasan to Syria with a companion 
named Hasan b. Ahmad, and told them to preach to 
the Arabs of the B. Kalb tribe, inviting them to recog- 
nise Muhammad b. Isma'il as the Imam. These two 
envoys obtained many followers. The envoy who had 
made plans with Zaqruya had meanwhile gone back to 
Talakan, and now, annoyed at Zaqruya's silence, went 
to the Sawad and discovered his place of concealment. 
When Zaqruya told him of the success of his mission 


to the Arabs he was delighted and determined to join 
the envoys himself. Zaqruya approved this plan and 
sent with him his nephew Isa b. Mahwayh, surnamed 
Mudatthar, and another young man surnamed Mutaw- 
wak, at the same time writing a letter to his son bidding 
him render obedience to the leader of these new comers 
whom he termed Sahib aLNakat. When they reached 
the B. Kalb they were welcomed and received with 
every profession of loyalty, and the tribe prepared for 
war. This took place in 289. The resulting conflict 
with the authorities was, however, unsuccessful : the 
sectaries were not able to repeat their brigandage which 
the weakness of the central authority had been unable 
to prevent about the Sawad, and the leader, the kins- 
man of the Mahdi at Salamiya, was killed, and the 
Arabs scattered. 

Nuwayri says that this leader had struck money, both 
gold and silver, and that the coins were inscribed on 
one side : " Say, the truth has come and falsehood has 
disappeared " (Qur. 17, 83) : and on the other : "There 
is no God but God; Say, ' for this I ask no wage of 
you, save the love of my kindred ' " (Qur. 42, 22). 

After this leader's death Hasan, son of Zaqruya, took 
command of the Qarmatians and assumed the name of 
Ahmad. The general Muhammad b. Sulayman had a 
great victory over him and, as he was unable to recon- 
struct his forces, he left for Baghdad where, he said, 
he had many followers, and put his son Kasam in 
charge as his deputy, promising to write to him. This 
was, however, only a pretext as he intended to seek 
safety in flight, but was caught by Mudatthar and 
.Mutawwak and put to death. 

This check caused the Arabs to keep quiet for some 
time. Then they received a letter from Zaqruya saying 
that he had heard of the death of Hasan and Isa by 
revelation, and that after their death the Imam was 
going to be revealed and would triumph with his 
followers. Kasam was now getting anxious, and 
thought it well to visit his grandfather Zaqruya in the 
Sawad ; but Zaqruya disapproved the course of events 
and rebuked him severely, sending another disciple, 
an ex-schoolmaster named Muhammad b. Abdullah, to 
replace him. At first this new commander met with 
success, then came reverse and he was killed. At this 


news Zaqruya sent back Kasam to collect the remnants 
of the party which he did and brought them to ad- 
Derna, a village in the Sawad. Here they were joined 
by Zaqruya, who was hailed by the Arabs as their wali, 
and all the Qarmatians in the Sawad came out to join 
them. The rising in the Sawad was a mere jacquerie 
of Nabataean peasants, and the Qarmatian movement 
proper never rose much above this level. At the head 
of his men Zaqruya attacked the caravan of pilgrims 
on their way to Mecca in 294, plundered it, and slew 
twenty thousand pilgrims. The Khalif then sent out 
forces to put down these troublesome brigands, the 
Qarmatians were severely punished, Zaqruya was taken 
prisoner and sent in chains to the Khalif, but died of 
his wounds on the way (Abu 1-Feda : Ann. MosL, ii. 

In 295 a man named Abu Khatam founded a new 
sect of Qarmatians in the Sawad, and these were 
known as the Buraniyya after Burani, who was the 
most active da'i in organising them. Abu Khatam 
forbade his followers to use garlic, leeks, or radishes, 
and prohibited the shedding of any animal's blood; 
he made them abandon all the religious observances of 
Islam, and instituted rites of an entirely new character. 
We shall find these prohibitions of particular vegetables 
in the ordinances of the Fatimid Khalif Hakim later 
on, but there justified by certain Shi'ite theories. At 
the end of the year Abu Khatam drops out of sight 
entirely. The movement is of interest only in showing 
the tendency of the Isma'ilians to form new schisms. 

Another off-shoot of the Qarmatians established itself 
in the Bahrayn, the land between the Tigris and 
Euphrates. In 281 Yahya, a son of the Mahdi, whom 
de Sacy supposes to have been the same individual 
who advised Zaqruya and who was killed near 
Damascus in 289, the one of whom we have already 
heard as the Sahib an-Nakat, although no mention of 
his raal name is given in any account of Zaqruya's 
rising, came to al-Katif and lodged in the house of a 
Shi'ite called *Ali b. Ma'li b. Hamdan. He told his 
host that he had been sent by the Mahdi to invite the 
Shi'ites to recognise him, the representative of Isma'il, 
as the Imam, and to announce that the public appear- 
ance of the " concealed one " was near at hand, 'All 


gathered together the Shi'ites of the locality, and 
showed them the tetter which Yahya had given him to 
be read to them : they promised obedience and declared 
themselves ready to take up arms as soon as the Mahdi's 
representative appeared amongst them. Very soon all 
the villagers of the Bahrayn were induced to join in 
these undertakings. Yahya then went away and 
returned with a letter, which he stated that he had 
obtained from the Mahdi authorising him to act as their 
leader, and calling on them to pay him six pieces of 
gold and two-thirds for each man. This they did, and 
then Yahya brought a new letter bidding them give 
him a fifth of all their goods, and this they did also. 

Ibn al-Athir says that Yahya went to the house of 
Abu Sa'id al-Jannabi, one of these Shi'ites, and that 
his host gave him food, and then told his wife to go 
in to Yahya and not refuse him her favours. News 
of this, however, came to the governor of the town, 
and he had Yahya beaten and his hair and beard shorn 
off as a punishment for the scandal caused. After this 
Abu Sa'id fled to his native town of Jannaba, and 
Yahya went out to the Arab tribes of Kalab, Oqayl, 
and Haras, who rallied round him, so that he found 
himself at the head of a considerable force in 286. It 
will be noted that the desert tribes, even though the 
most purely Arab, were always ready to join revolu- 
tionary movements, anti-Arab as well as other ; in fact 
they were simply marauders, and fell in with any plans 
which offered promise of a period of successful 
brigandage, irrespective of any political or religious 
movements involved. 

Nuwayri supposes either that Abu Sa'id had pre- 
viously learned Qarmatian ideas in the Sawad, or had 
been initiated by Hamdan and appointed da'i for the 
district of al-Katif . Most of his followers were drawn 
from the lowest classes, butchers, porters, and such 
like. The Sharif Abu 1-Hasaji says that Abu Sa'id 
regarded the da'i Zaqruya as a rival and felt a jealousy 
towards him, so that, having contrived to get Zaqnjyi 
into a house belonging to him, he starved him to death. 

When he had gathered a considerable following Abu 

Sa'id established himself at the town of ak'Ahsa,, 

besieged Hajar, the capital of the Bahrayn, for a 

matter of two years, during which his followers were 



considerably increased, and finally captured the town 
by cutting off its water supply. Some of the inhabit- 
ants escaped to the islands in the river near by, others 
embraced Abu Sa'id's doctrines, whilst others were 
put to death, The town was pillaged and ruined, and 
thus al-'Ahsa afterwards replaced it as the capital of 
the Bahrayn. According to Ibn Khillikan Abu Sa'id 
first appeared as feabir or " great man " of the Qarma- 
tians in 286. In 287 they made an attempt on Basra, 
and though they defeated the forces sent by the Khalif 
to repel them, they were unable to take the city (Ibn 
Khali,, i, 427), 

Abu Sa'id then attempted to get possession of Oman, 
but was obliged to abandon this scheme, He was 
slain in 301 with several other Qarmatian leaders, and 
was succeeded by his son Abu 1-Kasam Sa'id, who 
held the leadership until his second son Abu Tahar, 
who had been designated successor, was old enough to 
take up the task, which happened in 305. The Qarma- 
tian risings which take a position of considerable pro- 
minence in later history all took place under the 
successors of Abu Sa'id, who may be regarded as the 
founder of the Qarmatians as a revolutionary force, 
although there had been an earlier beginning of the 
sect as an off-shoot of the Isma'ilians under Hamdan 
and his missionaries. 

According to Ibn Khillikan Abu Sa'id entered Syria 
in 289, and in 291 he was slain in his bath by one of 
his eunuchs, He left six sons. It was Abu Tahar who 
marched on Basra in 311, occupied it without serious 
resistance, and plundered the city. But to these doings 
of the Qarmatians we shall return later. 



THE political career of the Fatimids centres in North 
Africa and Egypt, and commences with the activity of 
Ibn Hawshab, who himself never visited those parts. 
This man, whom Maqnzi calls Abu 1-Kasam Hasan b. 
Farash b. Hawshab, and Abu 1-Fera and Bibars 
Mansuri, refer to as Rustam b, Husayn b, Hawshab b. 
Zadam an-Najjar (" the carpenter "), was a follower 
of Ahmad whom we have seen as succeeding his father 
'Abdullah, and accompanied him on a pilgrimage to 
the sacred sites of the Shi'ites, the tombs of Hasan and 
Husayn and of several of the later Imams, all in the 
neighbourhood of Kufa and Samarra, 'Ali's own 
tomb is not known for certain, but is commonly 
believed to be at Naj'af, near Kufa. Whilst there they 
noticed a wealthy Shi'ite of Yemen nained Muhammad 
himself remarked by his tears and display of grief 
(Maqrizi i. 349). According to this Yemenite's own 
account he had just read the Sura of " The Grotto " 
(Qur. 1 8), when he noticed an old man with a young 
companion close at hand. The old man sat down, his 
companion sat near, but kept on observing Muhammad, 
until at last he left the old man and drew near him. 
Muhammad asked him who he was; he gave his name 
as Husayn, and hearing this sacred name Muhammad 
could not restrain his tears. The old man observed 
this very attentively, and bids the young man ask him 
to join them. When Muhammad did so he asked who 
and what he was, The man replied that ha was a 
Shi'ite, and gave his name as Hasan b. Faraj b, 
Hawshab. The old man said that he knew his father, 
and that he was a " Twelver." Did the son hold the 
same views? Hasnn replied that he always bad held 


them, but that of late he had felt much discouragement 
(cf. extract in Qatremre, Journal tisiatique t for Aug., 
1836). From this a conversation commenced, and as a 
result Hasan was converted to acceptance of the 
Isma'ilian creed. Further, Ahmad drew the con- 
clusion that Yemen would offer a promising field for 
Shi'ite propaganda, and decided to send Ibn Hawshab 
to act as da$ in Yemen, and about A.H. 270 (=A.D. 
883) he appears there as settled in the district of the 
B. Musa tribe at Sana (Maq. i. 349). At first he 
claimed to be simply a merchant, but his neighbours 
soon penetrated his disguise and urged him to act 
openly as a Shi'ite missionary who, they assured him, 
would be in every way welcome (Bibars Mansuri). 
Thus encouraged he declared himself a Shi'ite agent, 
and soon gathered a considerable band of followers 
drawn, not only from the immediate vicinity, but also 
from the Qarmatians of Mesopotamia. As soon as 
they were strong enough Ibn Hawshab 's companions 
took up arms and began raids upon neighbours who 
had not accepted the Shi'ite creed and met with much 
success in obtaining plunder. 

From the earliest period of Muslim history North 
Africa has been the favourite field of exploitation of 
every sect and political party which found itself in 
opposition to the official Khalifate, and there has 
always been very close intercourse between that area 
and South Arabia; indeed, there are even common 
peculiarities of dialect between the two. Thus we 
find that as soon as the new Isma'ilian sect was estab- 
lished in Yemen, Ibn Hawshab sent two missionaries, 
Hulwani and Abu Sufyan (Maq. ii. 10) to preach in 
the province of Ifrikiya, the modern Tripoli and Tunis, 
where their work seems to have lain particularly 
amongst the aboriginal Berber population, for the 
Berbers were always more disposed to any heresy or 
rebellion which would give them a good pretext for 
making war against the ruling Arabs. Nothing is 
known of the subsequent history of these two mission- 
aries save that after a brief career during which they 
seem to have made a deep impression, especially on 
the Katama tribe, they died. This Katama tribe lived 
in the broken territory north-west of the town of 
Constantine, in what would now be north-east Algeria. 


As we shall have to refer more than once to the 
geography of North Africa it will be convenient here 
to make a brief statement of its political divisions and 
condition in the fourth century A.H. By North Africa 
we understand the whole territory lying between the 
land of Egypt on the east and the Atlantic on the 
west, bounded by the Mediterranean on the north and 
by the great desert on the south. Previous to the 
Arab invasion this land was inhabited by the Berbers 
or Libyans, the same who, under the name of Lebu t 
had constantly threatened Egypt in the days of the 
Pharaohs. As a race these Berbers seem to have pro* 
gressed little since neo-lithic times, and were still in 
the condition of nomadic tribes like the Arabs of the 
pre-Islamic period. Their language was not Semitic, 
but it has many very marked Semitic affinities and, 
although language transmission is often quite distinct 
from racial descent, it seems quite probable that in this 
case the race bore a parallel relation to the Arab stock. 
This would be best explained by the supposition that 
both were derived from a neolithic race, which at one 
time spread along the whole of the southern coast of 
the Mediterranean and across into Western Asia, but 
that some cause, perhaps the early development of 
civilization in the Nile valley, had cut off the eastern 
wing from the rest, and this segregated portion 
developed the distinctive characteristics which we term 
Semitic. , 

Along the coast there had been a series of colonies, 
Greek, Punic, Roman, and Visigothic, but these left 
no permanent mark on the Berber population, lan- 
guage, or culture. Although at the time of the Arab 
invasion the country was theoretically under the rule 
of Byzantium', and the invaders had to meet the resist-* 
ance of a Greek army, the early defeat of the Greeks 
brought an immediate end to Greek influence in the 
country, and left the Arabs face to face with the Berber 

The Arab invasion of North Africa followed im- 
mediately after the conquest of Egypt, but the internal 
disputes of the Muslim community prevented this 
invasion from resulting in a regular conquest, much 
less in settlement, It was not until the second in- 
vasion took place in A.H. 45 (A.IX 665) that we can 


regard the Arabs as really beginning the conquest of 
the country and its settlement. For centuries after- 
wards the Arab hold was precarious in the extreme, 
and many Berber states were founded from time to 
time, some of which had an existence of several cen- 
turies. As a rule there was a pronounced racial anti- 
pathy between Arab and Berber, but this was mild 
compared with the tribal feuds between different Berber 
groups, and Arab rule was only possible by temporary 
alliance with one or other of the quarrelling factions. 
Strangely enough the religion of Islam spread rapidly 
amongst the Berbers, but it took a peculiar develop- 
ment which shows the survival of many pre-Islamic 
religious ideas and observances. The worship of 
saints and the reverence paid to their tombs is a cor- 
ruption of Islam which appears in most lands, but in 
the West it takes an extreme form, although there are 
tribes which reject it altogether. Similar worship, 
often in a revolting form, is paid to living saints or 
murabits (marabouts), who are allowed to indulge 
every passion, and to disregard the ordinary rules of 
morality : very often these reputed saints are no more 
than insane persons, for the Berbers, like many other 
primitive people, regard insanity as a form of divine 
inspiration. Such saints, even those living to-day, are 
credited with miraculous powers, and especially with 
the power of surpassing the limitations of time and 
place, and so to pass from one place to another in an 
instant of time, and to be in two places at once. 

These ideas, of course, are no legitimate develop- 
ment of Islam, to which they are plainly repugnant, 
but represent the survival of older pagan beliefs which 
Islam has not been able to eradicate. At the same 
time, as we have noted, there are tribes which are com- 
pletely free from these ideas, and there is, especially 
in the towns, an element which is strictly orthodox in 
its rejection of alien superstitions, and there have been 
many learned theologians and jurists of the Berber 
race, for the most part of a reactionary and conservative 
school of thought. The conquest of Spain was carried 
out by Muslim's, amongst whom the Berbers were in 
the numerical majority, and the Berber element always 
predominated in Spain, where some of the most 


brilliant philosophy, literature, and art of the Islamic 
world was produced. 

North Africa was always the home of the lost causes 
of Islam. Whenever the Khalifs of Baghdad tried to 
exterminate some obnoxious sect or dynasty, the last 
survivors took refuge in the remoter parts of the West, 
and there managed to hold their own, so that even now 
those parts show the strangest survivals of otherwise 
forgotten movements. But North Africa always gave 
its readiest welcome to those sects which show a 
strongly puritan character : though anyone in revolt 
against the Khalif or other recognized authority could 
count on a welcome in North Africa for that very fact. 

In race, language, and religious ideas the Berbers of 
the North are one with the Berber tribes of the great 
desert which spreads to the watershed of the Benwe 
and connects, oy regular trade routes following the 
ridges which traverse North Africa from north-west to 
south-east, with the Horn of Africa. But these desert 
dwellers of the south do not enter into the subject of 
our present enquiry. 

The Arab conquerors settled along North Africa and 
down to the desert edge in sporadic groups, their 
tribes as a rule occupying the lower ground, whilst the 
older population maintained itself in the mountainous 
districts. But this does not mean that the Berbers 
were held at bay as a subject people : the Katama, for 
instance, possessed some of the best territory in North 
Africa, and were practically independent of the Khalif. 
During the invasion of 45 the city of Kairawan was 
founded some distance south of Tunis. The site was 
badly chosen, and it is now little more than a decayed 
village, but for some centuries it served as the political 
capital of Ifrikiya, the province which lay next to 
Egypt and embraced the modern states of Tripoli, 
Tunis, and the eastern part of Algeria to the meridian 
of Bougie. West of this lay Maghrab or "the 
western land" which was divided into two districts, 
Central Maghrab, extending from the borders of 
Ifrikiya across the greater part of Algeria and the 
eastern third of Morocco, and Farther Maghrab, which 
was the land beyond to the Atlantic coast. 

The Berber tribes were spread over all these pro- 
vinces. In the eastern part of Ifrikiya the chief were 


the tribes of Hwara, Luata, Nefusa, and Zuagha : in 
Central Ifrikiya the Warghu and Nefzawai in 
western Ifrikiya the Nefsawa, Katama, Awraba, and 
a number of smaller tribes to the south : the chief 
tribes of Central Maghrab were the Zuawa (or 
Zouaves), Magbrawa, and B. Mzab : and in Farther 
Maghrab the B. Wanudin, Ghomara (in the Rif of 
Morocco), the Miknasa, etc. No satisfactory result has 
ever been attained by those who have tried to identify 
the ancient Numidians, Mauritanians, and Gaetuli with 
existing tribes; evidently, as in Arabia, there have 
been new groupings and new formations, which forbid 
the tracing back of the mediaeval tribal divisions to 
ancient times; perhaps it was Islam which finally 
rendered permanent the divisions as they existed in the 
first century of the Hijra. Amongst these Berber 
tribes were spread the tribes of Arab invaders and 
settlers which, even in the loth century A.D. extended 
in scattered groups from 1 the borders of Egypt to the 
Atlantic. For the most part each race preserved its 
own language, the Arabic dialects being distinguished 
by archaic forms, and a phonology somewhat modified 
by Berber influences; but there are several instances 
of Berber tribes which have adopted Arabic, and some 
of Arabs and mixed groups which have adopted the 
Berber language. For the most part the Arabs have 
had no reluctance to mingle with the Berbers, but the 
attitude of the Berbers varies, and some groups rigidly 
exclude intermarriage between themselves and the 
Arabs or any others. 

The Kharijites, the oldest and most turbulent 
dissenting sect of Islam, the reactionaries who opposed 
the modification of Muslim customs under Hellenistic 
influence, had appeared in Maghrab early in the and 
century of the Hijra after their suppression in Asia, 
and were still a living force there in the fourth cen- 
tury, when their very name was almost forgotten else- 
where. A small group of the less extreme branch of 
that sect, the Ibadites, still survives in strict isolation 
in South Algeria, The Idrisids, a dynasty descended 
from the house of Hasan the son of 'AH, founded by 
Idris who escaped from the attempted extermination of 
his kinsmen at Madina in 169, ruled an independent 
state in Farther Maghrab in the fourth century. The 


Umayyads dethroned by the 'Abbasids in 132, had a 
representative who escaped to North Africa, and then 
crossed to Spain where they founded a Khalifate at 
Cordova which, in the fourth century, had become a 
great and flourishing power. Indeed the Maghrab was 
too remote from the Khalifs of Baghdad ever to be 
under effective control : one after another punitive 
expeditions marched across North Africa, the dis- 
affected were defeated, the remnant took refuge in the 
hills, and in the course of a few years or even months 
the former condition returned again. Obviously those 
western lands offered a promising field to the agitator, 
whether political rebel or sectarian leader, and Ibn 
Hawshab 's missionaries had evidently struck a promis- 
ing vein in the Berber tribe of Katama. 

Amongst those who attached themselves to Ibn 
Hawshab in Yemen was a certain Abu 'Abdullah 
Hasan (or Husayn) b. Ahmad b. Muhammad b, 
Zakariya, afterwards surnamed ash-Shi *i, a native of 
Sana and a zealous Shi'ite who had been inspector of 
weights and measures in one of the districts attached 
to Baghdad. He was a man not only of superior 
education and intelligence, but astute and with as good 
knowledge of how to deal with men. Before long he 
became one of Ibn Hawshab's most trusty companions 
and, when the news came of the death of the two mis- 
sionaries who had been sent to Africa, Ibn Hawshab 
determined to send him as da'i, and provided him with 
the funds necessary for his enterprise. Later on we 
find him in Africa assisted by his brother, but we are 
without information as to whether this brother was 
sent to join him later or set out with him 1 (Maqrizi ii. 
n, Ibn Khallikan i. 465). 

Abu 'Abdullah's first step was to go to Mecca and 
to find out where the Katama pilgrims were lodged. 
As soon as he discovered this he engaged a lodging 
near by and sat as close to them as he could, listening 
to their conversation. Before long they began to talk 
about the prerogatives of the house of 'Ali, a subject 
on which they had been instructed by the two mission* 
aries who had already visited their country, and Abu 
'Abdullah joined in their conversation. When he 
stood up to go away they begged to bfc allowed to visit 
him, and to this he assented* They were delighted with 


his learning and began to frequent his society, and one 
day they asked him where he intended to go when he 
had finished his pilgrimage to Mecca. He replied that 
it was his intention to go to Egypt, so they begged 
him to join them as they would have to pass through 
Egypt on their homeward journey. They set out 
together, and the good opinion they had formed of him 
was greatly increased as they observed his piety, his 
regularity in the exercises of religion, and his ascetic 
character. During all this time he mentioned no word 
of his real intentions, but constantly directed the con- 
versation to the subject of the land of Katama, and 
asked many questions about the neighbouring tribes 
and their relation with the governor of Ifrikiya. On 
this last subject the Katamites explained that they did 
not regard the governor as having any authority over 
them', his residence was ten days journey from their 
country, and his control was nil. He further enquired 
if they were accustomed to bear arms, and they 
replied that this was their usual occupation. 

When they reached Egypt Abu 'Abdullah said fare- 
well to the Katama tribesmen but, as they expressed 
deep regret at the idea of leaving him, they asked what 
business he had lo attend to in Egypt. He replied 
that he had no business there but simply intended to 
become a teacher. " If that is all," they said, " our 
country will offer you a better field, and you will find 
more who are disposed to become your pupils, for we 
know your worth." So as they pressed him warmly, 
he consented to continue in their company, and went 
on until they met some of their fellow tribesmen who 
came out to meet them. All these had come under the 
influence of the two foririer missionaries and were 
devoted Shi'ites and, when they heard the account 
given by the returning pilgrims, they welcomed Abu 
Abdullah with every demonstration of respect. 

At length, about the middle of Rabi* L 288 (Feb., 
900 A.D.) they reached home, and every one of his 
companions pressed the missionary to be his guest. 
He declined all these offers of hospitality and asked 
them to inform him where was the valley of al-Khiyar 
(the righteous men). This enquiry greatly astonished 
them as no one could remember that such a name had 
ever been mentioned in his presence: thsy admitted, 


however, that there was such a place and described its 
situation, and he then told them that he would take up 
his abode there and visit each of them from time to 
time. He then set out with some guides to Mount 
Inkijan where the valley is situated, and when they 
arrived there he told his companions, " Here is the 
' Valley of the righteous men ' and it is on your 
account that it is thus named, for one reads in the 
traditions that * the Mahdi will be obliged to make his 
migration, and will be helped in his flight by the 
Righteous Men who will be on earth at that time, and 
by a nation whose name is derived from kitman ' ; it 
is because you will rise up in this valley which has 
been named ' The valley of the Righteous Men ' " 
(Maq. ii, n). The derivation of the Berber name 
Katama from the Arabic kitman " secret " was, of 
course, no more than a play upon words. 

Very soon the dwellers in the vicinity began to 
spread Abu 'Abdullah's reputation, men came from all 
parts to visit him, and he comletely swayed a large 
body of Berber tribesmen amongst whom the Katama 
tribe was most prominent. He made, however, no 
further mention of the Mahdi, and did not seem to 
interest himself in the subject. But he connected his 
work with that of the two former missionaries and said : 
" I am the man entrusted with the sowing of whom 
Abu Safyan and Hulwani spoke to you," and this in- 
creased their attachment towards him and his import- 
ance in their eyes (Maq. id. 37). Some, however, 
regarded him with disfavour, for evidently there were 
Berber tribes which had not adopted Shi'ite doctrines ; 
but the Katama tribe under its chieftain Hasan b. 
Harun supported him, and took up arms against those 
who tried to interfere with his work. This inter-tribal 
dispute was the beginning of a long conflict, which 
ultimately made the Shi'ites dominant in North Africa. 
Supported by the Katama and a number of Kabyle 
tribes Hasan attacked and catured the town of Tarrut, 
and then advanced against Meila. 

Already reports of the religious teacher of Mount 
Ankijan had spread through the province of Ifrikiya, 
and had reached Ibrahim b. Ahmad the Aghlabi Emir. 
These Aghlabids were hereditary governors of Ifrikiya 
established at Kairawan about 184 by the 'Abbasid 


Khalifs, to whom they paid tribute and were subject. 
Desirous of obtaining more accurate information 
Ibrahim had sent to the governor of Meila to make 
enquiry about Abu 'Abdullah and his doings, but the 
governor had sent back to Kairawan a somewhat con- 
temptuous account of him, in which he was described 
as a religious fanatic, a devotee revered as a saint by 
the ignorant people, and so the political possibilities 
of his activity were overlooked. 

The taking of Tarrut and the advance on Meila, 
which city, after a brief resistance, was betrayed by 
some of its inhabitants, made a change in this attitude. 
Ibrahim sent an army under his brother Ahwal against 
Abu 'Abdullah and his followers, and defeated them, 
after which Ahwal returned home fully convinced that 
the rising had been finally disposed of. From this 
defeat Abu 'Abdullah retired to Mount Ankijan where 
he established a " house of flight," and there he 
gathered his partisans around him. As soon as he 
heard of AhwaTs retirement he began a series of forays, 
pillaging the surrounding districts and annoying those 
who did not join the Shi'ite sect. At this Ahwal made 
a new expedition, but this time he suffered a repulse, 
not severe enough to force him to retreat, but com- 
pelling him to be satisfied with a defensive police duty 
in the neighbourhood which was, however, effectual in 
checking the Shi'ite raids. But this did not last long. 
In 291 (=A.D. 903) Ibrahim the Aghlabi died, and the 
governorship passed to his son Ziadat Allah, a man 
indolent and entirely devoted to pleasure, who recalled 
his brother Ahwal from his military duties. 

This, of course, opened new opportunities for Abu 
'Abdullah, and very soon his followers were ranging at 
will through the whole province of Ifrikiya, and he 
boldly declared that the Mahdi was now near at hand 
and would soon appear in Africa, and would prove his 
sacred mission by working miracles (Maq. ii. 11). 
Common report affirmed that Abu 'Abdullah himself 
had done many wonders, even making the sun rise in 
the west, restoring the dead to life, and other marvels. 
Not only had he now a very large following amongst 
the Berber tribesmen, but mlany of the officers serving 
under Ziadat Allah were well disposed towards the 


Shi'ite claims, and were secretly in correspondence 
with Abu 'Abdullah. 

At this juncture, in 291, the Shi'ites were practically 
supreme in all the country west of the suburbs of 
Kairawan, and now Abu 'Abdullah sent messengers 
over to the Mahdi inviting him to cross into Africa. 
Isma*il had just died at Salamiya, and shortly before 
his death advised his son Sa'id to migrate to a distant 
land. As soon as his father died Sa'id and his son 
Abu 1-Kasam Nizar set out from Salamiya intending 
to o to Yemen, but hearing of the success in North 
Africa changed their course in that direction, probably 
meeting the messengers from Abu 'Abdullah on the 
way (cf. Ibn Khaldun ii. 515-516). The journey was 
beset with great perils, especially in the passing 
through Egypt. At that time the governor of Egypt 
was Abu Musa Isa b. Muhammad Nushari, who had 
been appointed after the death of Ibn Tulun in 292, 
and held office until the government was usurped by 
Khalanj in 293-4, a ^ ter which the Khahf al-Muqtadi 
restored him' to office which he held until his death in 
297. Sa'id, or Ubayd Allah as he now preferred to call 
himself, arrived during this latter period of office, and 
the governor had grounds of suspicion about him 
without very clear information. The refugees left 
Misr, the old capital lying to the south of the present 
Cairo, but the governor followed and overtook them. 
He attempted no violence, but joined their company 
and induced them to rest with him in a garden, his 
guard meanwhile surrounding the place. He tried 
every means to win their confidence, and so to find out 
who they were and what was the object of their journey : 
he tried to coax 'Ubayd Allah to join him in teMng 
refreshment, but 'TJbayd Allah declined on the pretext 
that he was then observing a fast : then he tried to get 
information by judicious questions, but in vain. At 
length he allowed 'Ubayd Allah to go on his way. He 
offered the travellers an escort, but this was politely 
declined. Then the governor assembled his men to 
return home, but many of them showed their dis- 
content that the travellers had been allowed to escape, 
and on second thoughts the governor himself regretted 
that he had not detained them for furher enquiry, and 
sent a body of men after them, but they had made good 


use of their start, and it proved impossible to overtake 
them. Some said that the governor had been bribed 
by *Ubayd Allah, and this seem's to be likely enough. 

After this escape 'Ubayd Allah, his son, and Abu 
1-' Abbas, the brother of Abu 'Abdullah, went on to 
Tripoli. The next town on their way would be 
Kairawan, and 'Ubayd Allah was distinctly anxious 
about venturing there, so he sent forward Abu 1-' Abbas 
to obtain information. Now it appeals that Ziadat 
Allah had much clearer grounds of suspicion than the 
Egyptian governor, and Abu I- 1 Abbas was not able to 
escape suspicion, and was taken prisoner. Ziadat 
Allah does not seem to have been so much interested 
in the prisoner himself, but made every endeavour to 
find out some details about the companions with whom 
he was travelling. Abu l-'Abbas denied that he had 
travelled with any companions, or that he (had any 
knowledge of a fugitive from' Syria : he asserted that 
he was simply a merchant passing through Ifrikiya on 
his own business. But Ziadat Allah's suspicions were 
not allayed: Abu l-'Abbas was detained in custody, 
and a messenger was sent to Tripoli lo secure the arrest 
of the other travellers. The messenger, however, 
returned with the reply that 'Ubayd Allah had alreadv 
left the city before the order for his arrest had arrived. 
Again the suggestion is made that the governor of 
Tripoli had been won over by bribes. It is supposed 
that 'Ubayd Allah had been able to take with him a 
great part of his considerable wealth, and that it was 
easy for him to corrupt the provincial governors. Cer- 
tainly he had information of what had befallen Abu 
l-'Abbas in Kairawan. At first he retired to Kastilia, 
but when he made sure that there was no possibility of 
Abu l-'Abbas getting free and joining him there, he 
went on to Sijilmassa (Maq, ii. n). 

At the time of his arrival in this town the ruling 
prince, al-Yasa b. Midrar, had no grounds of suspicion, 
and received the travellers very kindly. 'Ubayd Allah 
made him valuable presents, and they soon became 
intimate. One day, however, as they were sitting 
together, a letter from Ziadat Allah was put into 
al-Yasa's hand, and in it the Aghlabi related the sus- 
picions he had formed about 'Ubayd Allah. The 
governor immediately ordered the arrest of 'Ubavd 


Allah and his son, questioned them closely about their 
relations with Abu I- 1 Abbas, and the suggestion that 
they were in some way associated with Abu * Abdullah, 
but 'Ubayd Allah denied any knowledge of either of 
these. The father and son were then separated and 
confined in separate quarters, and the son, Abu 
1-Kasam, was examined apart, but no information of 
any sort could be obtained from him. 

Meanwhile, since the departure of the messengers 
from Abu 'Abdullah to 'Ubayd Allah, the former had 
continued his career of conquest. Meila, Satif, and 
other towns immediately near the Katama territory 
were taken, and the governor at Kairawan was no 
longer able to disguise from himself that the Shi'ite 
revolt was threatening the very basis of Arab authority 
in Ifrikiya. Under these circumstances Ziadat Allah 
assembled a council of canonists to advise him about 
the Shi'ite claims. The meeting took place in the 
house of the prince's chief adviser, Abdullah b. Essaig, 
and, after considering the religious character of Abu 
'Abdullah movement, and especially the report that 
"he cursed the Companions, 1 ' i.e., that he was a 
Shi'ite who cursed the first three Khalifs as usurpers 
who had excluded 'AH from his rights, regardless of the 
fact that they had been the companions of the Prophet, 
they decided that Abu 'Abdullah and his followers 
must be publicly denounced as heretics. Fortified with 
this decision which was necessary to stop the tendency 
of his own people to favour the Shi'ites, the Aghlabid 
assembled an army of 40,000 men whom he placed 
under a kinsman named Ibrahim b. Habashi b. 
'Uraar at-Tamimi, and sent them against the Katama. 
Ibrahim took up his quarters at Konstantina 1-Hawa, 
on the western edge of the Katama country, and there 
he stayed six months without actually attacking the 
Shi'ites, but serving as a check upon their movements. 
As soon as he appeared Abu 'Abdullah retired to his 
usual retreat, "the house of flight," and no further 
advance was made on either side. As Ahwal had 
already proved, this kind of patrol work was the most 
effective. But Ibrahim desired a decisive punishment 
of the revolted tribes, and rashly resolved to move out 
and attack Kerma, one of the cities occupied by the 
Shi'ites. On the way Abu 'Abdullah* met and defeated 


him, and he had to flee with the remnants of his army 
to Kairawan, 

Matters were now becoming extremely serious, and 
Ziadat assembled a new force which he entrusted to 
Harun b. Tabni. Harun iriarched upon Daralmoluk 
and took k, but immediately afterwards Abu 'Abdullah 
arrived with his mam band, and a general engagement 
ensued, in which Harun was killed and his forces com- 
pletely routed. After this victory Abu 'Abdullah 
marched upon Banjas, which capitulated, and then was 
in a position to threaten Kairawan itself. We have 
now reached the year 295, and at this point Ziadat 
Allah raised a third army and took command himself. 
He advanced to Elaris, but there his courtiers began to 
remonstrate with him : if any disaster took place and 
he were involved it would mean the downfall of the 
Aghlabid dynasty, a result which would not necessarily 
proceed from the defeat of a subordinate general. 
Persuaded by his entourage Ziadat Allah appointed his 
kinsman Ibrahim as comm'ander-in-chief, and himself 
retired to Raqada to the south-west of Kairawan,\ and 
gave himself over entirely to a life of pleasure. 

Meanwhile Abu 'Abdullah was extending his author- 
ity over the whole country. He was invited to Bagaya 
which he occupied, then took by force the small) towns 
of Majana, Sash, and Maskanaya. His politic 
clemency at Bagaya produced a good impression, and 
did much to assist him in gaining over other towns. 
His success caused great alarm to Ziadat Allah, and he 
consulted 'Abdullah b. Essaig, who advised him to 
retire to Egypt and leave a general in charge of the 
army, but Ibrahim persuaded him to abandon this idea. 
Soon afterwards Abu 'Abdullah advanced to Merida, 
where were many refugees from the towns already 
taken. The inhabitants asked for terms, and Abu 
'Abdullah's lieutenants agreed, the leader himself being 
absent. When the envoys from the citizens returned 
and the gates were opened to adnrit them, the attacking 
army made a sudden rush, forced their way in, and 
pillaged the city. 

Abu 'Abdullah now resolved to attack Raqada where 
Ziadat Allah was established. As he marched towards 
that town Ibrahim tried to intercept him, and for this 
purpose left al-Arbes where he was encamped, and 


occupied Derdemin, which lay near the route which 
Abu 'Abdullah would have to take. On his way the 
Shi'ites sent a detachment to take Derdemin, without 
apparently being aware that this was now Ibrahim's 
headquarters. The detachment was repulsed and put to 
flight. Abu 'Abdullah was unable to understand why 
the deiachment did not return, and went after them 
\vilh reinforcements to find out. On the way they met 
their comrades in full flight from Derdemin, but at 
^nh the help of the new-comers inflicted a severe defeat 
their zprnval the tugiLives slopped, turned back, and 
on ibralvm. TT v,s ^s followed by the submission ot 
<}:ifra and Qastilia, the latter place being a general 
deprr for Ziad'it Allah's munitions, provisions, and 
mti.r -- all of which fell mlo llie Singles' hands For 
thtr lament, ho^vc^er, '^bu 'Abdullah rc'train-ed from 
fm'i-cr advance: he settled at Itognya and established 
hb headquarters there, and then retired for a time on 
his o\vn account to Mount Ankijan. 

Ibialum then decided to take the offensive and laid 
seic-e 10 Bagaya, news of which quickly brought Abu 
4 Abdullah back from his retirement, bringing 12,000 
newly enrolled tribesmen with him. But Bagaya was 
offering such a sturdy resistance to Ibrahim that the 
besieger was both astonished and discouraged, and, 
hearing of Abu 'AbdulhihV, approach, retired again lo 

In the spring of the following year, A.H. 296, the 
two armies of Ziadat Allah and Abu 'Abdullah both 
took the field. The historians state that the former 
numbered 200,000 men, the latter many more, ft must, 
of rourse, be remembered that figures of this sort by 
oriental writers are hardly deserving of the least 
attention. An engagement took place with results 
unfavourable to Ibrahim, who forthwith retired to 
Kairawan, the strongest military stronghold in Africa, 
As a consequence of this Abu 'Abdullah was enabled 
to enter al-Arbes, and a great massacre of the inhabit- 
ants took place, some 3,000 it is said being killed in the 
principal mosque* The following morning Abu 
'Abdullah retired to Bagaya. Next day the news 
reached Ziadat Allah. For som$ time 'Abdullah b. 
Essaig endeavoured to conceal it from the citizens, but 



when he offered 20 dinars to each volunteer willing to 
serve in the cavalry, and 10 dinars to each recruit for 
the infantry, the citizens perceived that the state was 
reduced to the last extremities and a panic ensued, 
ntany of the nobles and their dependents leaving for 
Raqada. Ziadat Allah himself packed up his valuables, 
and with the favourite ladies of his harim set out for 
Ejjprpt. 'Abdullah b. Essaig was put in charge of the 
prince's goods, and these were loaded on thirty camels, 
but unfortunately they missed their way as they started 
in the dark, and arrived at Susa where the governor 
impounded them, and they finally fell a prey to Abu 
'Abdullah. 'Abdullah b. Essaig himself tried to 
escape by sea, but a storm drove his ship ashore at 
Tripoli just as Ziadat Allah, angry at missing his 
goods, was stopping there. The unfortunate minister 
was brought before the prince as a deserter, but made 
so good a defence that Ziadat Allah decided to pardon 
him ; the courtiers, however, intervened, and he was 

After reaching Egypt, Ziadat Allah passed on to 
Rakka and sent forward messengers to the Khalif 
asking permission to present himself at Baghdad. A 
reply came forbidding him to attend at court and 
ordering him to await further instructions at Rakka. 
He stayed there a whole year which he spent in 
pleasure, and then received instructions to return to 
Africa, the governor of Egypt being directed to prepare 
supplies to equip him for an expedition against the 
Shi'ites. In accordance with these orders he travelled 
back to Egypt, where the governor told him! to wait for 
the supplies at Dhatu 1-Hammarn. He waited there a 
long time in vain, and then, as he was now in broken 
health he started out for Palestine, but was taken worse 
on the way and died at Ramla. With him the Aghlabid 
dynasty of hereditary governors of Ifrikifa, under the 
'Abbasid Khalifate, came to an end. 

When Abu 'Abdullah heard of the Emir's flight he 
went at once to Wady an-Namal, and sent forward 
1,000 men under Arunaba b. Yusus and Hasan b. Jarir 
to Raqada. The news soon reached Kairawan, and a 
deputation was sent out to congratulate the Shi'ites. 
These emissaries thought to ingratiate themselves by 
making contemptuous and hostile reflections upon the 


late ruler, but Abu 'Abdullah rebuked them, stating 
that Ziadat Allah had lacked neither courage nor in- 
telligence, but that defeat had overtaken him because 
it was the will of God. His gracious reception of the 
envoys from Kairawan caused great annoyance to the 
Katama tribesmen, to whom he had made a promise 
that they would be allowed to plunder the city. 

In Rajab L 296 Abu 'Abdullah, at the head of 
300,000 men, entered Raq^da to find the town entirely 
deserted by its inhabitants. He established himself in 
one of the empty mansions, and the leaders of the 
Katama occupied others (Maq. li. u). He then sent 
to Tripoli to fetch his brother Abu 1-' Abbas and Abu 
Ja'far, as well as 'Ubayd Allah's mother, who had 
apparently accompanied her son, though we hear no 
more about her. Abu 'Abdullah was a fervent Shi'ite 
and established a strict puritan rule in Kairawan, death 
being the penalty for drinking wine or bringing it into 
the city. The Shi'ite formula was used in the call to 
prayer, which implied the addition of the words " come 
to the excellent work Jl to the orthodox call, and the 
names of 'AH, Fatima, Hasan, and Husayn were 
inserted in the Khutba or public prayer at the Friday 
service. As in modern Persia the supreme authority 
was attributed to the concealed Imam, and the civil 
government based its rights on the claim to act as his 
deputy until the day of his revealing. In Kairawan 
the proper deputy would naturally be the Mahdi 'Ubayd 
Allah, but no public announcement was made of this 
as yet. The Khatibs of Kairawan and Raqada were 
ordered to omit the name of the 'Abbasid Khalif from 
the khutba, but no other ruler's name was inserted! in 
its place. A new coinage was prepared, and this 
similarly bore no prince's name; simply it had the 
inscription on one side, " I have borne my witness to 
God," and on the other " May the enemied of God be 

During these events 'Ubayd Allah remained still 
imprisoned at Sijalmasa, but now the time had arrived 
for his supporters to rescue him. Abu 'Abdullah's two 
brothers, Abu I- 4 Abbas and Abu Zaki, who had 
hitherto taken no very prominent position, were left 
as deputies at Raqada, and Abu 'Abdullah with a large 
body of followers marched towards Sijalmasa. The 


object m'ost desired was of course the liberation of 
'Ubayd Allah, and the danger was that the governor 
might put him and his son to death before the Shi'ites 
could rescue them. It was necessary, therefore, to 
avoid irritating al-Yasa the governor. Abu 'Abdullah 
hailed his army at some distance from the city, and 
sent forward envoys bearing a letter in which he assured 
al-Yasa that he desired no conflict, but only asked that 
c Ubayd Allah and his son might be set free. Al-Yasa 
only threw the letter on the ground and had the envoys* 
put to death, A second letter produced a similar result, 
and then Abu * Abdullah advanced and camped his men 
before the city, intending to make an attack on the 
following day. During the night al-Yasa escaped with 
all his portable goods and relatives. Next morning the 
inhabitants sent out and informed Abu 'Abdullah, who 
went at once to the prison whence he liberated 4 Ubayd 
Allah and his son. Leading the Mahdi out he showed 
him to the people, saying: "This is the Mahdi to 
whose obedience I invited men. 1 ' He then set him and 
his .son on horses and paraded them through the streets, 
crying, "This is your lord," frequently interrupting 
his cry with tears of joy. He conducted them to a tent 
which had been made ready for them, and sent a body 
of men in pursuit of al-Yasa (Mao. ii. 11-12). The 
fugitive governor was overtaken, brought back, and 

Ih.i Khalltkan ^ives another account of the taking 
of Sijalmasa, in which it is related that, before leaving 
the city al-Yasa executed 'Ubayd Allah, and when Abu 
'Abdullah entered his cell he found only the dead body 
and a faithful Jewish slave. Knowing that the absence 
of the Mahdi would be fatal to the whole Shi'ite 
scheme, he seized the slave, compelled him to silent 
acquiescence, and leading him out declared, " This is 
the MaJhdi " (Ibn Khali, ii. 78). This is another form 
of the " Jewish legend," to which we have already 
referred (cf. 47, above). 

For foity days ( Ubayd Allah remained at Sijalma&a, 
and then, towards the end of Rabi c II. 297 he was 
conducted by Abu 'Abdullah to Raqada. Here he 
assumed the title of cc al-Mahdi, Commander of the 
Faithful," and on the following Friday was prayed for 
under that title in the mosques of Raqada and 


Kairawan. On the same day the Shenf and the du'at 
held a public meeting, at which they tried to persuade 
the people of Raqada to become professed members of 
the Isma'ilian sect. In this, however, they were only 
partially successful, although lavish rewards were 
offered to those who joined, and many of those who 
definitely refused were imprisoned, some even put 10 
death. In fact we ore now in quite different surround- 
ings : the Mahdi was a successful adventurer, and had 
every prospect of establishing a principality quite as 
stable, and more independent than that of the Aghla- 
bicls : the religious pretensions of the Shi*ite party were 
only an embarrassment. From this time fonvard the 
Isnia'ilian sectaries form a privileged class, on the 
v;!hole disliked and despised by the people generally, 
who were quite ready to submit to the Mahdi's govern- 
*n.;nt, though deriding its spiritual claims; and the 
tendency is for the ruler rather to disembarrass himself 
i r the sectaries. 

Ziadat Allah's harim was then piesented to the Mahdi 
\\ko, after selecting such women as met with his 
approval for himself oncl his son, distributed the 
remainder amongst the chief men of the Kntama. 

\s soon as 'LJbayd Allah had entered Rnqada the 
ritizens had waited on him to obtain the renewal of the 
amnesty accorded by Abu 'Abdullah. He leplied to 
them, " Your lives and your children are safe." They 
asked him if he \\otikl give them a similar assurance as 
to their property, but' this he refused. This caused 
reat anxiety amongst the citizens, who gathered that 
their property was regarded as at the disposal of the 
Shi'ites. At" first 'Ubayd Allah Showed a much more 
violent Shi* ism than Abu 'Abdullah, although we 
seem justified in supposing that he was m'erely an 
adventurer who was entirely without religious convic- 
tions, whilst Abu 'Abdullah seems to have been a 
devout Shi'ite : but this is by no means the only 
instance in history where religious persecution was 
earned out most severely by unbelievers. He caused 
the " Companions," i-e,, the three Khalifs preceding 
'All, to be reviled openly, just as 'Ali himself had 
formerly been cursed publicly every Friday in the 
mosque of Damascus; and he strictly prohibited the 
canonists from teaching or using any system of juris- 


prudence other than that attributed to Ja'far as-Sadiq. 
Year 298 (=A.D. 910). Abu 'Abdullah had proved 
himself a loyal and efficient helper, and had done more 
than any other to establish the Mahdi in Africa. It 
seems that he was a sincere Shi'ite, and acted through- 
out in perfect good faith and in attachment fto the 
Mahdi with whom he had corresponded, but probably 
had never seen before he entered the prison at 
Sijilmasa. In 298 these feelings changed. One account 
is that Abu 'Abdullah and the chiefs of the Katama 
began to feel doubts about the Mahdi 's claim because 
he proved unable to work any miracles, and ability to 
perform miracles had always been assumed as one of 
the evidences of a Mahdi's claims. Working miracles 
always has been and still is the primary essential of a 
murabit (marabout) in North Africa, and there need be 
no reason to doubt that the non-fulfilment of the pro- 
bably extravagant Berber expectations must have 
caused serious disappointment amongst the Katama. 
Then again, the Berbers, like the Arabs, are naturally 
fickle and insubordinate; in the ordinary course of 
things they would be sure to murmur before long 
against any ruler, especially against one near at hand. 
Did Abu 'Abdullah share their feelings? or did he 
excite them for his own ends? Ibn Khillikan states 
that when the Mahdi was firmly established at Kaira- 
wan, Abu 1-* Abbas reproached his brother that " You 
were master of the ctfuntry and uncontrolled arbiter of 
its affairs, yet you have delivered it over to another and 
consent to remain in the position of an inferior," and 
at this Abu 'Abdullah began to regret that he had 
handed everything over to the Mahdi and com'menced 
plotting against him (Ibn Khill. i. 465). But it must 
be remembered that Ibn Khillikan shows a very 
marked anti-Fatimid bias. It seems more likely that 
both Abu 'Abdullah and the Berbers were really dis- 
appointed to find the Mahdi an ordinary mortal. The 
matter was debated in the presence of the chief sheikh 
of the Katama, and Abu 'Abdullah expressed his 
doubts, saying : " His actions are not like those of the 
Mahdi to whom I used to try to win you : I am afraid 
I have been mistaken in him, and have suffered a 
delusion similar to that of Ibrahim al-KhaJit when the 
night closed over him and he saw a star and feaid, 'This 


is my lord ' (Qur. vi. 76). It is therefore incumbent 
on me and you to examine him, and to make him show 
those proofs which are known to the genealogists as 
those to be found in the Imam " (Arib b. Sa'id, 
Nicholson, pp. 120-121). As a result the Sheikh of the 
Katama waited upon 'Ubayd Allah and asked for the 
performance of a miracle as a proof of his claim to be 
the Mahdi. The reply was the immediate execution of 
the Sheikh. This gave serious alarm to Abu 'Abdullah 
and his brothers, who held a meeting by night in the 
house of the youngest brother Abu Zaki. This night 
meeting -may have been merely a conference to discuss 
changed conditions, or it may have been in the nature 
of a conspiracy. Such meetings continued for some 
time, and very probably treasonable plans were sug- 
gested, even if not seriously adopted : at any rate sus- 
picion was aroused, the brothers were watched, and 
full information of their proceedings was carried to 
the Mahdi. One morning Abu 'Abdullah appeared at 
court with his garment turned inside out, the Mahdi 
took no notice. Next day the same thing happened, 
and so on the third. On the last of these occasions the 
Mahdi asked him why he wore his garment so. He 
replied that it was an oversight; he had not noticed 
that it was turned the wrong way. The Mahdi con- 
tinued, " Did you not pass the night at the house of 
Abu Zakir? 3 ' he replied, " Yes/' " Why did you 
do so?" Abu 'Abdullah answered that he did so 
because he was afraid. The Mahdi remarked that one 
only feared when there was cause to believe that there 
was an enemy. He then showed that he was fully 
aware of the meetings, that he knew the names of those 
present, and the subject of their conversation. As a 
punishment he declared that the three brothers should 
be expelled from Kairawan, and that Abu Zaki, who 
seenis to have been the moving spirit, should be sent 
to Tripoli as governor. There had been a revolt of the 
Hawarite tribe in Tripoli, and so it seemed that Abu 
Zakir was to be sent on military service as a punish- 
ment, replacing the governor who was his uncle. At 
Kairawan this seemed a just and proper measure, for 
conspiracy could hardly be passed over, but the penalty 
involved no disgrace or apparent severity. So Abu 
Zaki set out for Tripoli bearing* a letter to the governor. 


But unknown to him the letter contained orders for his 
instant execution. As soon as the governor read the 
letter he sent for Abu Zaki and showed it to him ; the 
nephew admitted that it was the will of God and sub- 
mitted to be beheades. News of this was sent by carrier 
pigeon to the Mahdi, who perceived that it was now 
time to get rid of the other two brothers before they 
took the alarm. He invited them lo a repast, but bends 
two officers, Garwaih al-Mulusi and Jn'bar al-Mili, 10 
conceal themselves behind the oiiitle of as-Sachu and 
way-lay them as they passed. They did so and killed 
them with pikes. The bodies laid uncarcd for al the 
brink of a cistern until after the following noon, Mien 
the Mahdi orders them to be taken up and given a 
public funeral at which hu himself officiated. In 
explanation of his action the Mahdi wrote a letter 10 
the Shi'ites of Asia in which he said : " Ye krrnv the 
position in which Abu 'Abdullah and Abu *Abba& stood 
with regard to Islam; but Satan hath caused them to 
stumble, and they have been punished with the ,y,,ord. 
Farewell" (Arib'b. Sa'id, Nicholson, p. 128). 

But the murder of Abu 'Abdullah \\as not taken 
easily by all the Katama tribe, and a not Colluded the 
funeral. At this the Mahdi showed the personal 
courage which, equally with a total absence of scruple 
or gratitude, became characteristic of his dynasty. 
Mounting his horse he rode out into the streets, and 
declared that now justice was satisfied, and that no 
further enquiry would be made or punishments 
inflicted. He was so far successful that the people 
dispersed quietly. 

We may ta&e the murder of Abu 'Abdullah as 
marking the establishment of, the Kfiahfate at Kaira- 
wan. Hitherto it had been more or less surrounded 
with a religious atmosphere; it had been essentially 
connected with a particular religious sect. Now, with 
the death of Abu ( Abdullah it is 'established frankly ats 
a secular power, although the religious claims are .still 
maintained in ttie background* The Shi'ite positioh, 
.however, now appears rather as political than sectarian. 
The orthodox Khalif was ruling at Baghdad, but the 
Mtthdi's followers regarded him ,simWy as a usurper. 
The same view was taken by the umajtyad raters In 
, although al this time they had not yet ventured 


to assume the title of Khalif. Amongst the Shi'ites 
proper the Khalif exists only as the "concealed" 
Imam, and the visible ruler on earth is merely his 
viceroy ; but the Mahdi claimed to be not only Mabdi, 
but the heir of the Imams, and thus assumed the 
Khalifate as the legitimate heir of 'Ali. 


LED by religious enthusiasms, the Berber tribes had 
succeeded in sweeping away the Arab government of 
the province of Ifrikiya. To a very large extent, 
however, this was as much a racial and anti-Arab 
movement of the Berbers as a religious one : of course, 
very much the same has been true of every JMahdist 
movement in Africa. The history of Islam is full of 
similar revolts, for the most part either with a religious 
motive, or at least a religious pretext. Now the 
destructive work was finished and die Mahdi settled at 
Kairawan, having damped or perhaps quenched the 
religious fervour of his followers by the execution of 
Abu 'Abdullah and the implied shelving of the miracu- 
lous powers which his earlier followers had associated 
with him, was faced with the task of constructing an 
orderly and stable principality out of what must be 
confessed to have been rather unpromising materials. 
More than once the Semitic and Berber tribes have 
shewn themselves quite capable of nation-building, and 
their work has not always been short-lived. The 
religious motive was effective in arousing the enthu- 
siasm of fighting men, tihe task of framing political 
institutions dem'anded different qualities. At this time, 
no doubt, we must regard the Mahdi as primarily a 
political adventurer: that he had any serious regard 
for Shi'ite principles is incredible; that he was the 
missionary of an enlightened philosophy which would 
deliver men from the fetters of religion, a position 
which may have been true of his ancestor 'Abdullah, 
is extremely improbable in his case. Unexpected cir- 
cumstances had given him an exceptional opportunity 
as the founder of a dynasty, and we have now to see 
how he used this opportunity* 


Towards religion the Mahdi 's attitude had been at 
first one of rabid Shi'ism, though he, as one of the 
fully initiated, could not have been sincere : no doubt 
he was acting up to what he expected to be the feelings 
of his subjects so far as he had observed the Katama 
and the immediate followers of Abu 'Abdullah : closer 
acquaintance with the people of Kairawan showed him 
that he had been mistaken, the people generally were 
quite ready for a Mahdi, or any-one else, who could 
establish and maintain an orderly government, but as 
Muslims they were orthodox by a large majority, and 
by no means willing to accept the rather fantastic 
theories of incarnation and transmigration which 
appealed to the Persian mind. As soon as this was 
made clear the Mahdi formulated a definite policy in 
religion, enforcing strictly all the outward observances 
of Islam, rigidly punctilious in the prohibition of for- 
bidden food and drink, and punishing severely those 
of the Isma'ilian sect, who tried to practice the freedom 
of the higher grades of the initiated. It was no doubt 
possible for the initiate to disregard the rites of religion 
in their private life, but any external neglect, likely 
to cause scandal amongst the populace at large, was 
treated as a criminal offence : there was none of the 
open lawlessness of the Qarmatians tolerated in Ifrikiya : 
the inner grades of the sect were distinguished from 
other Muslims only by their reverence for the family 
of 'AH, whom all revered to some extent, by their re- 
pudiation of the first three Khalifs, which was offensive 
to the orthodox but not intolerable, and by a few minor 
differences in the ritual of prayer, and in the treatment 
of the problems of the canon law. 

The most difficult problem demanding the new 
ruler's immediate attention lay in the lands to the west, 
for the Mahdi claimed to control all the territory to the 
Atlantic, over which the Aghlabid princes had pre- 
tended to rule. The first difficult task came in the 
revolt of Tiharet. 

For long past the Berber lands of North Africa had 
afforded a refuge for every persecuted sect and dynasty 
of Islam. The earliest sect, the Kharijites, the wild 
men of the desert who adhered to the oldest; form of 
purely Arab Islam, had entered Africa after they had 
been hunted down and slaughtered in Asia by the 


Umayyad Khahfs. In the days of the Mahdi they still 
held their own in the district' of Tiharet m the moun- 
tainous country of Central Maghrab. They threw off 
all allegiance to the ruler at Kairawan and muted 
Muhammad b. Khazar to be their Emir. The Mahdi 
sent the Katami Aruba b. Yusuf against them : after 
ihree days seige the city was taken, plundered, and 
some 8,000 of the ^habitants slam. 

The Umayyads \\'ho had put down the Kharijite> in 
Vsia had hei.?n compelled by the course of events to 
^eek a refuge in -Africa for ihemselves, and thence had 
passed over to Spam which was regarded as the 
remotest of the western parts. At this time ther were 
ruling at Cordova (they did HO T assume the title of 
Xhahf until A .11. ^,17), and held also some possessions 
in Afrira tibout Oipn. The same Karmnti leader who 
had taken Tiharet was able to seize Oran. 

Tlie idrisit! dynasty, descendants of 'All by Hrson, 
fvntfled from Madmp in 160, had founjed a state in 
the lemnter part of Morocco where thev were still 
ruling, This slate dso uas attacked by \ruba and 
redun^d, so iliat all the western lands to the AilnntF 
const was brought under the control of thu Mahdi fibn 
Khalfl. i. 24^-5, 2f)7-8, etc.). 

^his course of consolidation of the most loosely held 
pnrt of the Muslim 1 world speaks well for the organising 
ability of the general \ruba, and established the 
Malidi's cHilhoritv upon a sound loundation. It was, 
however, Hi Curbed bv domestic difificulties in the 
capital. Kairawan was an Arab colony, but under the 
Mahdi the Berbers were in the ascendant, and racial 
disputes were inevitble. One day a Katama tribesman 
treated a city merchant with insolence; a riot ensued, 
and some i f ooo of the Katama were slam. After this 
had been repressed the governor rode through the city 
and ordered the dead bodies of the Berbers to be re- 
moved. The workmen who carried out this order 
threw the bodies into the channel which served as the 
city sewer. At this the Katama tribesmen removed 
from the ritv in indignation, and declared that they 
would no longer submit to the Mahdi 's rule, and chose 
a youth named Kadu as their emir. Very soon this 
rebel was in possession of the whole province of Zab, 
and the Mahdi sent several generals against him 


without result. Some of these generals, indeed, 
deserted to the enemy, for the Beibers were the mam 
fighting force in Africa, and there was a general indig- 
nation amongst them at the way in which the Katama 
rebels in Kairawan had been treated, and there were 
many tollowers of Abu 'Abdullah still who threw in 
their lot with the revolted Berbers. At length 'Ubayd 
Allah sent his son Abu 1-Oasim, and he, with some 
difficulty, managed to reduce the triN^srnen. 

In 300 the colony of Tripoli levelled. There, as* in 
Kainiuan, there had been nuts between the Berbers 
and Arabs. When Abu 1-Qasim returned from punish- 
ing the tribes he advanced lo attack Tripoli, whilst the 
Mahdi at the same time sent a fleet gainst it, and after 
some delay it was reduced. Then Sicily revolted, and 
this proved lo be a permanent loss to the Fatimid 
KhahFs. At first the Sicilians invited \hmad, a son of 
Zindat Allah, the former emir i,f M,'iira\van, to take 
charge. He refused, but alter some time, as the invit- 
ation was repeated, he consented In be recognised as 
emir of Sicily. As soon as he wns established he sent 
a letter to the Khalif of Baghdad professing loyalty 
and asking to be confirmed as emir by the Khalif* 
Thus Sicily broke away from the Fatirmd^ dominions 
and became once more a port of the empire of the 
'Abbasid Khalif. 

In 30 r the Mnhdi founded a new city on the coast 
near Kairawan, and gave to it tho^name of nl-Mahadiya. 
The site was very badly chosen, and the place after- 
wards decaxed completely, although it served as the 
Fatimid capital for some generations. At the same 
time he commenced building" a fleet, by the help of 
which he hoped to make an attack upon Kgypt in due 
course; no doubt he was by this lime convinced that 
his kingdom in North Africa was not likely to be a 
stable one, just as it had been held piecariously by the 
Arab rulers who preceded him : in fact it was an un- 
settled and savage country, which could be under 
control only so long as under actual military occupation. 
Probably, also, he hoped that the prospect of conquer- 
ing Egypt would attach the Berbers to him more 
successfully* The weak point in these plans was that 
the building and manning of a fleet depended almost 
entirely on what Greek help he could hire. Soon 


afterwards he sent his general <Khubasa eastwards and 
extended his authority, somewhat precariously, to 
Barqa. In the summer of 302 he made his first attempt 
against Egypt, sending forces by land under his son 
Abu 1-Qasim, and Khubasa against Alexandria. The 
inhabitants of that city were obliged to take refuge in 
the ships in the harbour, whilst the invaders plundered 
their houses. The invading army then passed south- 
wards to the Fayyum, but here they were met by an 
Egyptian army strongly reinforced from Baghdad, and 
compelled to retire. The effort, however, had brought 
the invasion of Egypt within the sphere of practical 
politics, and the plunder of Alexandria raised much 
enthusiasm amongst the Mahdi's followers. At that 
time the 'Abbasid Khalifate was in its decline: in 
Baghdad the government was in the hands of the 
military guard, the commander of that guard was the 
real ruler, the Khalif being no iriore than a figure head 
liable to be deposed and replaced at the will of the 
soldiery. The provinces were semi-independent, in most 
cases ruled by hereditary emirs who paid no more than 
a formal tribute of respect to the Klhahf; indeed, in 
many cases it meant simply that his name was men- 
tioned in the Friday prayer. Of all the provinces 
Egypt was, perhaps, the worst administered, and the 
ripest for falling away from the 'Abbasid dominions. 
It was on the verge of disintegration by natural decay, 
whilst the Fatimid state which coveted it, though 
outwardly strong and efficient, (had already showed that 
it had the seeds of internal weakness in the tribal 
jealousies of Berbers and Arabs. 

In 307 the Mahdi's armies made another attempt on 
Egypt, this time supported by a fleet of 85 ships, which 
passed along the coast from al-Mahadiya and anchored 
in the harbour of Alexandria. The KhahTs officers at 
Baghdad could only get together 25 ships which were 
assembled at Tarsus and sailed over to Alexandria. 
But those twenty-five ships were manned by experienced 
Greek mariners, and inflicted a decisive defeat on the 
Mahdi's fleet. 

As Egypt now enters very directly into the affairs of 
the Fatimids, it will be necessary to consider its con- 
dition. For the last four years it had been governed 
by Ke Emir Dhuka ar-Rumi, i*e. t Ducas the Roman 


(or Greek). Before the defeat of the Mahdi's fleet 
Dhuka resolved to check the invaders who had followed 
their former route to the Fayyum, and were laying 
waste and plundering at will. He had great difficulty 
in inducing the Egyptian army to move at all, but at 
last marched out to Giza and encamped on the same 
side of the Nile as the MaJhdi's army. Soon afterwards 
he died, and the governorship was taken over by TekFn 
al-Khassa, who had been governor before from 298 to 
303 and had been associated with the former victory 
over the Shi'ites. Immensely popular with the 
soldiery, his resumption of office m'ade an immediate 
change, and he was able to take the offensive and in- 
flict a serious check upon the invaders, about tihe same 
time as the naval victory at Alexandria. Although the 
Fayyum was cleared the Fatimid forces were still in 
control in Upper Egypt, whither their cavalry had 
pressed on whilst others stayed in the Fayyum. There 
the extreme narrowness of the Nile valley and the 
exposed condition of the Bahariya and the other oases 
always meant a minimum of defence, and the invaders 
were able to hold their own until the next year. That 
meant that the whole area was infested by bands of 
light cavalry, rapidly moving Bedwin, both Berber and 
Arab, always able to retreat at will into the neighbour- 
ing desert and very difficult to be restrained by any 
ordinary military force. In our own dealings with the 
Sanusi in 1916 we had experience of such difficulty. 
The only possible solution is a system of organised 
military patrol, which takes some little time to dispose 
efficiently. That Egypt was cleared after a few mbnths 1 
interval shows that Tekin had considerable ability in 
handling the military task with which he was con- 

These attacks of the Shi'ites revealed another weak- 
ness in Egypt. There was strong reason to suspect that 
they had many sympathisers there* There was an 
active branch of the Isma'ilian propaganda at work in 
the country, and all who were initiated in the sect were 
of necessity spies and (helpers of the invaders. Two at 
least of the leading officials, the Qadi and the Treasurer 
were in correspondence with the Mahdi and in his 
employ : this does not mean that they were converts to 
the Shi'ite sect, but simply that they wete disloyal to 


their own service as the result of personal jealousies 
and rivalries, the perennial bane of all oriental govern- 
ments. It was only the support of the army which 
maintained Tekin, and even so he was not in a position 
to attack his rivals in the government. When he had 
been successful in clearing the country of the Mahdi's 
forces, he had his reward in dismissal trom the 
governorship m which he was succeeded by Muhammad 
b. Hamal, but three days later he was restored, to be 
deposed again soon afterwards as the result of more 
palace intrigues. The two following governors, Hilal 
b. Badr and *Mimad b. Kayghalagh, held office, the 
first for two vears, the other ior ort-, *.nd then in 312 
Takin was restored and remsmL-d governor until hU 
denth in 321. Conditions inched \vuje .such that only 
a military leader v ith tho Mipport ,f ill? '<rmy could 
exercise any etie.Mive control in tiie COUIUM . The re- 
iniorcements sent from JJa^hdau in 302 had done more 
harm than the Shi'iU* invaders; they had totally 
demoralised the native -/jldiery, and tl^e arnij was now 
no more than a large t xup of brigands vho lived on 
the plunder of (he counliy. At his appointment in 312 
Takin established the army in cairns around his own 
palace as well :is in quarters in the building itself, and, 
more by the force of his own personality than anything 
else, managed to keep them fairly in" hand until his 
death. Tt was no small feat, for (tie was utterly unable 
to provide* them with their pay, which was m'any years 
in arrear. At his death the governorship was assumed 
by his son Muhammad, but he had not his father's 
power or popularity, and was soon mobbed and driven 
out by the discontented soldiers clamouring for their 
pay. The Treasurer Madara'i, who was in the Mahdi's 
employ and largely responsible for the disorder in the 
finances, was obliged to hide himself. Several am- 
bitious officers assumed the title of Governor and tried 
the expedient of raising funds by brigandage organised 
on a larger scale than usual, and the country had relief 
only in tihe fact that these were soon occupied in war 
against one another. It is not difficult to understand 
that the eyes of many Egyptians were turned longingly 
towards Kairawan, where the Mahdi, in an efficient 
though somewhat brutal manner, was administering- a 
firm and well ordered state, maintaining civil law and 


peace. This is the easier to appreciate when we re- 
member that Isma'ilian missionaries were busy in 
Egypt, and the orderly government at Kairawan would 
naturally form one of their arguments. 

At this juncture, wihen Egypt was plunged in 
anarchy, the Khalif at Baghdad intervened and 
appointed as governor Muhammad b. Tughj the 
Ikhshid, son of the Emir of Syria, who had himself 
been governor of Damascus since 318. As his name 
denotes, this new governor was of Turkish birth. For 
some time now the Khalifs, seriously alarmed at the 
growing independence of the various dynasties of here- 
ditary governors, especially in Persia and the neigh- 
bouring lands, had been introducing Turkish mercen- 
aries, reckless of the inevitable consequences. 

The conditions of the Khalifate at this time show a 
close parallel with those prevailing in Europe under the 
later Karlings, when " the governor, count, abbot, 
or bishop tightened his grasp, turned a delegated into 
an independent, a personal into a territorial authority, 
and hardly owned a distant and feeble suzerain " 
(Bryce: Holy Rom. Empire, p. 79). So each governor 
appointed by the Khalif became the founder of an 
independent dynasty, barely conceding the mention of 
the suzerain's name in the khutba and on the coinage. 
Sudfh were the Tahirids who ruled in Khurasan from 
205 to 259, the Saffarids in Persia from 254 to 290, the 
Samanids in Transoxiana and Persia from 288 to about 
400, the Hamdanids who established themselves at 
Mosul in 292, at Aleppo in 333, and ruled there until 
394, and the Aghlabids whom we have seen in 

The Ikhshids claimed to be descended from the 
ancient kings of Ferghana on the Jaxartes, a district 
inhabited by fighting races, from whom the Khalif al- 
Mu'tasim (218-227) drew many mercenaries. The first 
of the Ikhshids to serve the Khalifs was a mercenary 
named Juff, and he continued in the Khalifs employ 
until his deatfo in 247. One of his sons named Tughj 
was in the service of Lu'lu, who acted as squire to Ibrt 
Tulun in Egypt, and, when his master died in that of 
Ishaqb. Kundaj, and afterwards in that of Ibn Tulun's 
son, Abu 1-Jaysh Khumasawaih, who regarded him 
with great favour and formed a very high opinion of 


his military abilities, in consequence of which he pro- 
cured for him the governorship of Damascus and 
Tiberias. At his patron's death Tughj offered himself 
to the Khalif al-Muktafi, who considered this an act 
of marked loyalty, and was greatly pleased with him, 
and made him one of his confidential officers. These 
favours provoked the jealousy of the wazir al-' Abbas, 
and he succeeded in getting Tughj cast into prison 
where he died. He left two sons, Muhammad and 
'Abdullah, who burned to avenge their father's death, 
and their resentment was gratified when they saw 
al- Abbas executed by the Hamdanid al-Husayn. 

After this the elder son, Muham'mad, went to Syria 
and joined himself to Takin, who was governor of 
Syria as well as of Egypt. In this service he prospered 
and was made governor of Amman. Then in 316 he 
was appointed to Ramla, in 318 he was transferred to 
Damascus, which led the way to his appointment as 
Emir of Egypt. This last charge was given him in 
321, but the state of Syria did not allow his immediate 
departure, and Egypt was left for a while in the hands 
of Ahmad b. Kayghalagh, who returned to office tem- 
porarily. By 324 Syria had been reduced to order, and 
Muhammad the Ikhshid went over to Egypt^ to assume 
his governorship in person, leaving his brother 
'Abdullah in Syria. 

There were som'e in Egypt who did not like the 
prospect of this new governor, and amongst these was 
the Treasurer Madara'i, who induced the acting 
governor, Ibn Kayghalagh, to take up arms to resist 
his entry. The Egyptian army marched to the frontier 
and engaged the Syrians and Turks under the Ikhshid 
at Fararna, the ancient Pelusiun, now more generally 
known as Tineh (Arabic $n= Greek ^Afc "mud"), 
near the Egyptian end of the cc short desert route,'* via 
al-Arish from Syria. The result was a complete defeat 
of the Egyptians, and so Muhammad the Ikhshid 
continued on his way to the capital Fustat (" Old 
Cairo n ) without further opposition. Meanwhile the 
Syrian fleet had sailed up the Nile and anchored off 
Giza, thus commanding the city until the Ikhshid 
marched up his forces and took possession. The 
arrival of the new governor and his army, largely 
Turkish in composition, established a firm and efficient 


government in Egypt again until his death in 335. At 
their first arrival indeed the Turkish troops began 
plundering the city, but tihey were soon called to order 
and then, although the new governor was severe and 
exacted heavy contributions, this stern rule was wel- 
comed as it recalled the peace and prosperity of the 
golden days of Ibn Tulun. The resultant peace very 
soon opened up the way to literary activity and 
scholarship, and Egypt began to follow, though at a 
distance, the culture of 'Iraq. This literary develop- 
ment, as well as theological discussion and debates on 
jurisprudence, centered in the " Old Mosque, 1 ' which 
was also the scene of the most important state functions, 
Although the establishment of the Ikhshid rule in 
Egypt gives the appearance of supreme power to the 
Khalif at Baghdad, who seems thus able to dispose of 
provinces and appoint governors at discretion, his 
position at the time was really very precarious. The 
Buwayhid dynasty of governors had established itself 
in 'Iraq in 320 (=A.D. 932), but Baghdad itself re- 
mained under the Khalif until 334, though generally 
he was only a tool in the hands of the commander of 
the garrison. These Buwayhids claimed descent from 
Buwayh, a prince in the hill country of Daylam, and 
so ultimately from the ancient kings of Persia. They 
appeared as rivals of other Daylamites led by Bajukin, 
who was Emir al-Umara or IC Supreme Prince," and 
had control of the government under the Khalifs ar- 
Razi and al-Muttaqi. Alarmed at the progress of the 
Buwayhids, Bajukin took up arms against them in 327, 
but was compelled to abandon his efforts by the report 
of disorders in Baghdad. Soon afterwards Bajukin was 
killed by a band of Kurdish marauders, and the capital 
was left in a state of anarchy. Then Baridi became 
Chief Emir, but was expelled a few weeks later : then 
the Daylamite Kurtakin, who turned out to be a tyrant, 
At this the Khalif appealed to Ibn Raiq, the Emir) of 
Syria, and he expelled Kurtakin. Not long afterwards 
Baridi attacked Baghdad and Ibn Raiq had to flee, 
taking the Khalif with him to Mosul, which was in the 
hands of the Hamdanids. As champions of the 
Khalifate the Hamdanids marched against Baghdad, 
took it, and ruled there for a short lime, until the 
Turk Tuzun drove them out and mlade himself Emir 


al-Umara in 331. Then another revolt drove him out, 
and the Khalif appealed again to the Hamdanids and 
escaped to Mosul; but when peace was concluded 
between Tuzun and the Hamdanids the Khalif re- 
mained in their hands. At this time, indeed, the 
Khalifate was very far from showing the character of 
an absolute monarchy. All over the Muslim world the 
Sunni, or orthodox party, recognised the Khalif as the 
Commander of the Faithful, except of course in Spam 
where the Umayyads of Cordova assumed the title of 
Khalif in 317. Enjoying great dignity and prestige in 
an office which combined many of the characteristics 
of the Pope and Emperor in the West, he was in fact 
no more than a puppet, a valuable asset in the hands 
of any one of the warring dynasties of Asia, but pos- 
sessing no real authority. Yet his formal recognition 
was eagerly sought as a precious endorsement of de 
facto rights by Muslim rulers, and even princes in far- 
off India humbly begged his approval of their tides. It 
seems indeed as though the office of Khalif gained in 
spiritual influence as it lost in political authority. 

Whilst in exile and in Hamdanid's hands, the 
Khalif appealed to the Ikhshid whom he 'had set over 
Egypt, and Muhammad visited him at Riqqa and 
invited him to take refuge in Egypt; but al-Muttaqi t 
though anxious for help to recover the external symbols 
of authority at Baghdad, was not willing to put himself 
so entirely in the Ikhshid's hands; he knew that 
Ikhshid and Hamdanid alike only desired to possess his 
person as a kind of imperial regalia, and so he pre- 
ferred to entrust himself to the Turk Tuzun, who at 
least could establish him in the capital. He reigned 
in Baghdad in name only until 333", when Tuzun de- 
posed him, put out his eyes, and enthroned al-Mustakfi 
in his place. But this was followed by a period of 
anarchy in Baghdad, until in 334 the Buwayhid 
prince took the city. A few months later al-Mustakfi 
was deposed and replaced by al-Mu'ti t whose position 
under the Buwayhid princes was parallel to that of the 
Prankish kings under the " Mayors of the Palace," 
with the aggravated condition that the Khalifs were 
spiritual pontiffs and the Buwayhids were, like the 
Hamdanids, Shi'ite heretics of the " Twelvers " sect* 
Buwayhid's rule over Baghdad lasted from 1 384 to 447, 


when the Emir was displaced by the Saljuk Turks 
under Tughril Beg. Throughout this period the 
Buwayhids were content with the title of Emir al- 
Umara; they never assumed that of Sultan. 

It has been necessary for us to turn asidei to note the 
position of the Khalifate at the time, for otherwise we 
should (have some difficulty in understanding the course 
of events in Egypt, which now takes the foremost place 
in the policy of the African Shi'ites. It is often 
possible to ignore the contemporary history of Spain 
and of North Africa when following the course of 
events in Egypt, but Egypt forms so integral a part of 
the world of Islam that it is never possible to treat its 
history, even during the comparative isolation of the 
Fatimid period, without some passing note of the con- 
temporary history of the Baghdad Khalifate, 

Whilst these changes were taking 1 place in Asia and 
the Ikhshid was consolidating his power in Egypt, the 
Mahdi continued ruling at Kairawan, and, though 
North Africa was one of the most turbulent and the 
least civilized parts of the Islamic world, his rule was 
stable and orderly. In 312 he added a suburb to the 
city which he called al-Muhammadiya, and which 
served as a kind of royal cantonments closed against 
the ordinary citizens, and used only as an official 
settlement of those engaged in the public administration 
and as the site of the various public offices. Such 
official suburbs were very frequent in oriental capitals, 
and become a regular feature of the great Muslim royal 
cities. The Mahdi's later years were somewhat clouded 
by his relations wild the Qarmatians, who were still 
active in Asia, and who caused the whole Isma'ilian 
movement to be regarded with grave suspicion by the 
Muslim world at large. 

Since 311, as we have seen, the Qarrnatians had 
occupied Basra, In 317 they had spread down into the 
Hijaz, and on the ^8th of the month of the pilgrimage 
in that year the pilgrims who had come up to Mecca 
were attacked by them. The Sherif of Mecca, many 
of his attendants, and many of the pilgrims* were 
killed : the sacred spring of Zamzam was choked up 
with the bodies of the slain which were tumbled in : 
the door of the " House of God " was broken open, the 
veil which covered the House was torn down, and the 


sacred black stone was removed from the Ka'aba and 
carried away to the Qarmatian headquarters at Ha jar. 
Never in tihe history of Islam has there been sacrilege 
at all comparable to this, and never before had the 
Qarmatians advertised so boldly their contempt for the 
Muslim religion. Begkem, the Emir of Baghdad, 
offered them a reward of 50,000 dinars to restore the 
sacred stone, but the offer was refused. 

According to Ibn Athir, quoted by Ibn Khallikan (i. 
427, etc.) the Mahdi, then wrote to them from Kaira- 
wan : "By what you (have done you have justified the 
charge of infidelity brought against our sect, and the 
title of ' impious ' given to the missionaries acting for 
our dynasty; if you restore not what you have taken 
from the people of Mecca, the pilgrims and others, if 
you replace not the Black Stone and the veil of the 
Ka'aba, we shall renounce you in this world and the 
next." This letter was more effectual tihan Begkem's 

S roffered reward, and the Qarm'atians restored the 
lack Stone with the statement, " We took it by order, 
and by order we return it." It was restored either in 
Dhu 1-Kaada or Dhu 1-Hijja of 339. Of the year there 
seems no question, and Ibn Khallikan points out that 
the Mahdi died in 322. He suggests, therefore, that 
the letter and the Qarmatian reply were fabrications, 
presumably for the purpose of throwing the odium of 
sacrilege on the MahcU. But it is not necessary to 
suppose that the Black Stone was returned immediately 
in response to the Mahdi's request. A m'ore likely 
interpretation Is given by Macdonald, who accepts the 
letter as genuine and comments : " When an enormous 
ransom was offered for the stone they (i.e., the Qarma*- 
tians) declined they had orders not to send it back. 
Everyone understood that the orders were from Africa. 
So 'Ubayd Allah found it advisable to address them 
in a public letter, exhorting them to be better Muslims. 
The writing and reading of this letter must have been 
accompanied by mirth, at any rate no attention was 
paid to it by the Qarmatians. It was not till the time 
of the third Fatimid Khalifa that they were permitted 
to do business with that stone " (Macdonald : Muslim 
Theology, pp. 46-47). This suggests a plausible ex- 
planation, mat the letter was sent by the Mahdi, but 
was only intended to disclaim any responsibility for the 


taking of the stone on his part; that it was not in- 
tended to be heeded, and was not taken seriously, the 
stone being detained until long after the Mahdi's 
death. This theory would fit in with the policy of the 
Fatiraids at Kairawan, which carefully avoided any- 
thin? likely to offend the orthodox, and would dispose 
of Ibn Khallikan's objection, which is based on the 
supposition that the date of the return of the stone was 
shortly after the writing of the latter. The letter 
assum'es that the Qarmatians and the Fatimids were 
members of the same sect. Undoubtedly they had been 
so originally, but later on they definitely separated, 
and "we are not clear as to the time of this division. 
It seems probable that the external quasi-orthodoxy of 
the Fatimids in Africa was the cause of its separation 
from the Qarmatians, who had made more open pro- 
fession of the destructive elements of their religion. 

The Mahdi died in 322 (A.D. 933), and was succeeded 
by his son Abu 1-Kasim, who assumed the name of 


(A.H, 3*2-335 =A,D. 

THE new Khalif, al-Qa'im, had already shown himself 
an efficient leader in the two expeditions against Egypt, 
and in the vigour with which he repressed the simmer- 
ing revolts in Africa. His accession was marked by 
two expeditions ; a naval attack on the south of France, 
the coast of Genoa and Calabria, which resulted in the 
bringing home of many slaves and plunder: and 
another attempt on Egypt, which, however, was 
promptly checked by the Ikhshid's brother, 'Ubayd 

At the moment Egypt was too well administered to 
allow opportunity for invasion such as had taken place 
in 307-8. The Ikhshid was doing his best to held Syria 
and to bolster up the tottering throne of the Khalifs, 
but had forces to spare for the protection of Egypt. It 
is true that he was defeated shortly afterwards by Ibn 
Raiq, who had seized Damascus and was compelled to 
pay tribute, but after two years' paym'ent Ibn Raiq 
died (A.H. 326), and then the Ikhshid was able, not only 
to recover all that he had temporarily been compelled to 
yield, but was in a position to extend his dominions, 
and brought Syria under his control. Not long after- 
wards the Khalif entrusted him with the guardianship 
of Mecca and Madina. At that time the Ikhshid was 
the only loyal supporter on whom the Khalif could 
rely, chiefly, of course, because of his jealousy towards 
those who threatened the throne of Baghdad. 

Unable to divert his subjects by the long (hoped for 
conquest of Egypt, al-Qa'im had to meet rriore serious 
rebellions in the west than his father had experienced. 
The principal revolt took place amongst the Zenata 
tribe of Aures and Zab, south of the Katama territory, 


nearly all members of the Kharijite sect, led by a 
darwish named Abu Yazid, who assumed the title of 
" Sheikh of the true believers,' 1 but was better known 
as " the man with an ass." This movement was 
mainly of a nationalist character, and aimed at estab- 
lishing a purely Berber state in which Arabs should 
have no place. The Berbers had won Spain, and, had 
done most to place the Fatimids on the throne of 
Kairawan, but in both cases they seemed to have been 
cheated out of the fruits of their labours by wily 
Asiatics, and so the motive in this revolt was the 
assertion of their racial rights. 

In 332 Abu Yazid marched northwards at the head 
of most of the Zenata tribe of the south, "hereditary 
rivals of the Katam'a, and many other Berbers. In 
rapid succession he took Baghai, Tabassa, Mermajenna, 
and Lanbus. The Fatimid forces tried to prevent his 
advance upon Baja, but were repulsed. It was the 
story of Abu 'Abdullah over again, but this time it was 
a Berber at the head of Berber tribes, and the religious 
motive assigned was the restoration of the primitive 
ideals of Islam, the democratic election of the Khalif, 
and all the reactionary programme of the Kharijites 
which was, and is, the most congenial to the nomadic 
tribes of Africa and Arabia. We have seen very much 
the same programme in the history of the Sanusi in 
recent times. The successful repulse of the Fatimid 
army made a great impression, and all the Zanata tribes 
of Zab, the Hwaras of the Aures, and many others, 
rallied round Abu Sazid. At the head of a large, but 
undisciplined force, he marched towards Kairawan ; on 
the way he met a Fatimid army, but this time suffered 
defeat. It was, however, no more than a temporary 
check; he soon rallied, took Raqada, and then pressed 
on to Kairawan, defeated the forces of the Fatimid 
Khalif, and captured the city. Al-Qa'im was obliged 
to take refuge in al-Mafhadiya, which Abu Yazid forth- 
with beseiged. At this juncture the Katama and 
Sanhaja tribes came in mass to relieve the city, and 
Abu Yazid's followers, demoralised by the steady 
resistance of the defenders, were obliged to retire. As 
they retreated al-Qa'im followed, and was soon able to 
recover the whole of Tunisia, but after an interval Abu 
Yaizd rallied and laid seige to the town of Susa. 


At this juncture al-Qa'im died, and was succeeded 
by his son, who took the name al-Mansur (the 

Al-Qa'im' had accompanied his father, the Mahdi, in 
his flight from Syria, and had proved himself a trusty 
and competent general before his accession to the throne. 
He figures in history solely as a fighting man : we hear 
nothing of any development either in the Isma'ilian 
sect or in the organization of the Fatamid state. 


(A.H. 335"342 =A.D. 94M53) 

THE stability of the Fatimid Khalifate was problem- 
atical when al-Qa'im died at the height of Abu Yazid's 
rebellion. The first task of the new Khalif al-Mansur 
was to relieve Susa, and he was fortunate enough to 
inflict a severe defeat on Abu Yazid, and to drive him 
back to the mountains of Kiana in the extreme west of 
Ifrikiya. There a stubborn struggle followed which 
lasted a whole year, but was terminated by the final 
defeat and complete rout of the insurgent Berbers, Abu 
Yazid himself being mortally wounded in the final 
engagement and dying soon after. 

This revolt, however, begins the decay of Fatimid 
authority in the west. The Zanala tribes of Maghrawa 
and B. Ifrene were able to form a separate state in the 
neighbourhood of Tlemsen, whilst the Umayyads of 
Spain established a colony at Fez, where thgy placed 
the descendants of Musa ibn Abi 1-Afia and his 
followers. Syrian Arabs who had been invited to Spain 
but had become obnoxious, and whom it was advisable 
to segregate from the earlier settlers in Spain. Central 
Maghrab, roughly corresponding to the greater part of 
Algeria, was held by the Saahaja tribe, steady allies 
and supporters of the Fatimid Khalifate, under the 
government of Ziri b. Menad, who built the town of 
Achir as his capital* 

Such was the position when al-Mansur died in 342 
and was succeeded by his son Ma'ad, who took the 
name of al-Mo'izz. Al-Mansur's reign had been 
occupied entirely in dealing with Abu Yazid's rebellion, 
and in the consolidation of the country after jthis 
rebellion had been put down. It cannot be said that 
he left the Fatimid state in a strengthened position 


when compared with conditions under the Mahdi, for 
already independent states had begun to be formed in 
the West, but he had dealt successfully with the 
emergency existing at the time of his accession. 

The Fatimid state was essentially an hereditary one, 
for the Shi'ite theory implied the legitimate descent of 
the Imam. The recognition of Isma'il, the son of 
Ja'far, clearly showed that the father's claimed right of 
disposing of the succession was invalid in the eyes 
of the sect of Seveners. From that time the succession 
had been strictly hereditary. But the Fatimids, seated 
in power, borrowed the constitutional usage of the 
Khalifs of Baghdad, and secured the succession by 
obtaining fonrial recognition of the heir during their 
lifetime. Thus Ma'ad was formally recognised as next 
in succession on Monday, the ;th of Dhu 1-Hijja 341, 
and came to the throne in the following year. In the 
'Abbasid Khalifate this recognition was a relic of the 
earlier election, and meant that the next Khalif was 
formally elected by the princes during his predecessor's 
lifetime, the orthodox Khalifate not being professedly 
hereditary. The case was otherwise with the Fatimids 
who were legitimist, and could only have as Imam the 
one chosen by God, and to whom alone the Divine 
Spirit could pass at the preceding Imam's death, No 
doubt the formal recognition during the father's life- 
was adopted as a measure of precaution ; theoretically 
it might be defended by the supposition that its point 
was the father's public recognition of his son and heir, 
but the real case seems to be that it was simply borrowed 
from the usages of the court of Baghdad, and m'arks a 
relaxation of the theocratic and sectarian character of 
the Fatimid state which is gradually inclining towards 
becoming a purely secular one, differing from the 
Baghdad Khalifate in little more than in that it pro- 
fessed Shi'ism as the established religion. 


(A,H. 342-365 =A.D. 953-975) 

THE new Fatimid Khahf was of a type somewhat 
different from his predecessors. Like them, indeed, he 
proved an able and efficient ruler, but unlike them he 
was a man of cultured tastes and of considerable literary 
ability. His heart was set on the conquest of Egypt, 
the great dream ever present before his father and 
grandfather, which seemed now coming within the 
bounds of possibility, 

To understand this we must turn for a while to the 
course of events in Egypt. The Ikhshid Muhammad b, 
Tughj had died in 335, and had been succeeded by his 
son Abu 1-Qasim Unjur, a child of 15, who was kept 
in a state of pupilage by a black eunuch named Abu 
1-Misk Kafur, i.e., " Camphor, the father of musk," 
This Kafur was an ungainly black slave, of ponderous 
bulk and mis-shapen legs, who had been purchased as 
a boy of ten in the year 310 and sent one day with a 
present to the Ikhshid; the present was returned, but 
the messenger was retained. Little by little tie rose in 
the service, first of the Ikhshid's household, then in 
that of the state, conciliating everyone by his pleasing 
manners and fair woids, and was finally appointecj by 
the Ikhshid atatek, or guardian, to his' two sons. At 
the Ikhshid's death a riot broke out, and this Kafur put 
down with such tact that he was regarded with even 
greater favour and consideration by all the public 
officials. Soon afterwards news arrived that the Ham* 
danid Sayf ad-Dawla 'Ali had taken Damascus, and 
was marching upon Ramla, At once Kafur set outf at 
the head of the army and checked 'Ali, returning home 
with considerable booty. This greatly increased his 
reputation, and, although holding no constitutional 


authority he was able to get all the business of the state 
into his hands, and was generally conceded the title of 
ustad or " tutor," a word often used in the same sense 
as patron in French, and under this title he was men- 
tioned in the khutba or Friday prayer. As his ward 
Unjur grew older, (however, a more or less veiled hos- 
tility arose between them, each on his guard against the 
other, until the titular prince died in 349, not without 
suspicion of being poisoned by the ustad, although 
such suspicions were usual in every case where a death 
seemed to be timely : the oriental world has always had 
an obsession for poisoning. 

Kafur was now strong enough to control the appoint- 
ment of the next heir and, as Maqrizi expresses it, 
appointed the deceased prince's brother Abu 1-Hasan 
*Ali to succeed him, paying him an annual pension of 
400,000 dinars, and reserving the whole administration 
in his own hands. The new Emir, though 23 years of 
age, was kept shut up and was permitted to see no-one. 
However, the same strained feelings arose between him 
and the ustad as in the case of his brother, and when 
he died in 355 there were the same suspicions. For 
some time Egypt remained without a regular governor, 
it must be remembered that the Emir was theoretic- 
ally no more than a viceroy appointed by the Khalif at 
Baghdad, and all the power continued in Kafur's 
hands as he declined to proclaim Anujin's son, saying 
that he was too young to occupy the position of JEmir. 
About a month after Abu 1-Hasan 'Ali's death he dis- 
played a pelisse of honour sent from Baghdad and a 
charter nominating himself governor under the title of 
ustad, and on Tuesday, the loth of Safar 355 (Feb., 
966), he beean to wear the pelisse in public (Ibn Khali, 
ii. 524, etc.). 

Before long the Khalif al-Mo'izz made another 
attempt upon Egypt, and his army advanced to the 
oases before the western frontier, but Kafur checked 
the advance and slew several of the invaders,^ but 
received at his court some of the Fatimid missionaries 
whom al-Mp'izz sent as envoys to invite Kafur to 
reoognise his authority. The Ustad received them 
favourably, and most of his entourage and the chief 
officials gave their promises of homage to the Fatimid. 
It seems, indeed, that Kafur had formed the definite 


plan of transferring allegiance from the 'Abbasid Khalif 
to the Fatimid, or rather that such a transference should 
take place at the next vacancy in the governorship of 

fur never repeated the military enterprise or 
success of his two earlier expeditions, his defeat of the 
Hamdanid and his repulse of the Fatimid, if indeed 
this latter can be regarded as a success. He was unable 
to prevent the Qarmatians who had raided Syria in 
352, from capturing the caravan of Egyptian pilgrims 
on their way to Mecca in 355. Nor could he restrain a 
Nubian invasion into Egypt which plundered the more 
southern districts and took home much booty. Still 
more serious misfortunes which were not under his 
control were the two low Niles, producing famine and 
misery, and a severe fire which destroyed parts of 
Fustat, as well as an earthquake. On the whole the 
four years of Kafur's rule were a period of distress and 

Yet many in after days looked back to those years 
as a kind of golden age. It was a period in which the 
later growth of Arabic literature was in full tide, that 
later literature which contrasted with the ancient Arabic 
poetry of the more strictly classical period, when both 
prose and poetry were manipulated mainly by men who 
were not Arabs by race, but obtained a greater technical 
skill than the earlier writers had achieved. To that 
later literature the negro ruler of Egypt showed himself 
a generous patron and his court was filled with poets, 
wits, and men of letters who were attracted to Egypt 
by the liberality of the black Maecenas. Like most of 
his race he was passionately fond of music; and the 
beautiful gardens which he laid out on the north of 
Fustat, gardens which the Fatimids incorporated in 
their royal city of Cairo, transmitted his name to suc- 
ceeding generations. He was lavish in his expenditure, 
the negro is always ostentatious, and especially so 
on the daily provisions of his kitchen, but this was 
counted in his favour, for the Arabic tradition was tfhat 
princes should dispense an open handed hospitality, 
and the Egyptians of ancient and modern times have 
had a strong inclination to appreciate feasting and the 
indulgence of the appetite. But most welcome of all 
to his table were poets and epigramraists, who rarely 


went away without some substantial rewards for their 
literary efforts. One poet was able to leave behind him 
a hundred suits of robes of (honour, twice that number 
of vests, and five hundred turbans. Such literary 
courtiers naturally turned their genius to compliment- 
ary verses about their patron. One, playing upon his 
name Kafur or "camphro," composed verses on the 
fragrant scented gardens which he had laid out, and 
which long stood for the ideal gardens in the Egyptian 
mind : another explained in verse how the shocks of 
earthquake had been caused by the Egyptians dancing 
for delight as they contemplated Kafur's merits, an 
effusion which caused the delighted Ustad to throw 
him a purse containing a thousand dinars. Amonst 
his pensioners was the poet al-Mutanabbi, who had left 
the court of the Hamdanid Sayf ad-Dawla in anger at 
the smallness of his presents, and thought little of a 
prince who did not come up to his very high standard 
of generosity. At first Kafur used to smile graciously 
at him, but the poet wanted presents and not mere com- 
pliments. " When I went into Kafur's presence, 1 ' be 
said, " with the intention of reciting verses to him, he 
always laughed at seeing me and smiled in my face, 
but when I repeated to him these lines : 

' Since friendship has become a mere deception, I 
am repaid for my smiles with smiles; but when I 
choose a friend my mind misgives me, for I know 
he is but a man ' : 

he never did so again as long as I rem'ained with him. 
I was astonished at this proof of his sagacity and in- 
telligence.'* He was very quickly dissatisfied with 
Kafur. "What I want," he said, "I declare not; 
thou art gifted with sagacity, and my silence is a suffi- 
cient explanation, nay a plain request. 1 ' At length he 
left Kafur's court, dissatisfied at the liberal gifts he 
received because they were not ample enough, and re- 
venged himself by writing satires on Kafur, such as : 
" Who could teach noble sentiments to this 
castrated negro? his white masters? or his an- 
cestors who were hunted like wild beasts?" 
The poet finally settled at the court of Adud ad-Dawla 
at Shiraz (Ibn Khali, ii. 524, sqq.). 

But Kafur, though easy going and with many of the 
weaknesses of the negro, was a man who had the wit to 


acquire more than a superficial education by the right 
use of opportunities which were often available to the 
ambitious slave, and which indeed form one of the 
redeeming features of slavery as it existed in Muslim 
lands. Besides this he was a painstaking and efficient 
administrator, and a man of deep religious convictions. 

In all Kafur ruled the country twenty-two years, part 
of the time as tutor to the two sons of the Ikhshih, part 
as independent viceroy in all but name. During the 
closing years of this period he became unpopular. 
Feeling had been strained by the famine due to the bad 
Niles, and the reports of the Qarmatians* advance into 
Syria bred disaffection amongst the Turkish and Greek 
mercenaries. On Tuesday, the 20th Jumada I. 356 
(May, 967), he died at the age of sixty, leaving property 
to the value of 700,000 dinars of gold, and goods, 
furniture, jewels, slaves, and animals valued at some 
600,000 dinars. 

Kafur's death left Egypt in a state of confusion. The 
court assembled to elect a governor; a significant mark 
of the times, for no reference was made to the Khalif 
at Baghdad, who was a mere phantom. The choice 
fell on Abu 1-Fawaris Ahmad, grandson of the Ikhshih 
Muhammad b. Tughj, who was a mere child. Soon 
after this, however, there arrived in Egypt Husayn, 
Ae son of 'Abdullah, the brother whom Muhammad 
(had left in Syria in 321 . During the thirty years which 
had elapsed since then Ubayd and his son had had a 
chequered military career, and the son now arrived as 
a fugitive, fleeing from the Qarrnatians. His arrival 
was welcome to the Turkish troops who forthwith 
elected him their general, and he at once assumed the 
supreme power. The use he made of this authority 
was to arrest the wazir Ibn al-Furat and torture him 
until he wrung from him a large sum of money with 
which he departed at once to Syria. During his brief 
stay in Egypt he had been guilty of other acts of cruelty 
and rapacity, and when a year later (he was himself 
sent a prisoner to Egypt, there was a general feeling 
of satisfaction that he was himself treated with severity. 
His departure for Syria took place on the first of Rabi* 
II- 358 (Feb., 969). The rule of the Ikhshids, or at 
least their nominal authority, continued for five months 



more until the summ'er of the same year (Ibn Khali. 
Life of Tugihj). 

It was a time of acute disorder. Famine had followed 
the failure of the Nile, and plague had followed the 
famine. The soldiers had their pay diminished, their 
customary gratuities were in arrear, and they were in 
open mutiny, for there was no controlling hand to 
restrain them. The administration was in the hands of 
the wazir Ibn al-Furat, who had been plundered by 
'Abdullah, and he was unable either to pay the troops 
or to relieve the distress of the people. It was clear that 
under these conditions the country would be in no con- 
dition to offer effective resistance to an invader, and this 
was the moment chosen by the Fatimid Khalif to make 
his attack. 

For two years (356-357) al-Mo'izz had been making 
detailed preparations for the invasion of Egypt. In 356 
he had commenced constructing roads, digging wells 
along the roadside, and building rest-houses at regular 
intervals. At the same time he began collecting funds 
for the necessary expenses and paying substantial sums 
to the Katama leaders, who were thus enabled to arm 
and equip their followers. As we have already seen, 
there had been Fatimite missionaries for some time at 
work in Egypt, and al-Mo'izz had even made formal 
advances to Kafur and had been well received, and his 
proposals for coming to Egypt had been heard with 
politeness : he certainly had many strong adherents in 
high office in Egypt. Now the general disorder 
following the famine and plague, and the disorganiz- 
ation after Kafur's death seemed to furnish the right 
opportunity, just as all his preparations were mature. 

An even more important task had been performed in 
bringing all North Africa into complete subordination. 
Cultured literary man as the Fatimid Khalif was, he 
was also a most efficient organizer, and was well served 
by officials whom he treated with generous confidence. 
The disciplining of Africa was a necessary preliminary 
to an expedition outside the bounds of the country, 
which might well be of protracted duration and un- 
certain issue. For this he had the assistance of an able 
general, Abu 1-Hasan Jawhar b. 'Abdullah, commonly 
known as " Jawhar the Greek scribe," as he was a 
liberated slave trained as a secretary, whose father had 


been subject of the Byzantine Empire. Like Kafur he 
shows that the slave in Islam was not merely treated as 
a fellow man, but had a career of ambition open before 
him, in which his servile origin was no obstacle ; even 
in modern times slaves have risen to hteh office, and 
have sometimes married princesses. There was no 
colour barrier nor any racial feeling : no reluctance was 
felt at white men being ruled by a negro ex-slave. 

Marching to the Maghrab, Jawhar joined forces with 
vAe Sanlhaja chieftain Ziri, who was one of the most 
faithful allies of the Fatimids (cf. p. 123), and together 
they advanced upon the Umayyad colonies at Fez and 
Sijilmasa. These they took and thus prevented the 
possibility of Spanish interference in Africa for the 
time. Continuing westwards they reduced the whole 
Maghrab lo the coast. As a sign of the extent of the 
expedition fish were caught in the ocean, and sent in 
jars to the Khalif in company with the princes of Fez 
and Sijilmasa, who were conveyed in an iron cage. 
The only town left to the Utnayyads was Sibta (Ceuta). 
The Idrisid princes of the far west, descendants of 
Hasan, the son of 'AH, were put down, and thus their 
independent rule which had lasted just over two cen- 
turies came to an end. It was a more thorough 
reduction of the country than had ever been made pre- 
viously, and when Jawhar returned to Kairawan 
al-Mo'izz was recognised as the unquestioned ruler of 
all North Africa. 

The Khalif determined to entrust the invasion of 
Egypt to Jawhar, who had so clearly proved his 
efficiency in the reduction of the Maphrab, but just 
about this time Jawhar fell ill. Al-Mo'i/z was not 
willing to replace him, and continued his preparations, 
assembling troops and supplies at Raqada : every dav 
he visited the general who, as soon as his health was 
sufficiently restored, the order to advance was given, 

[awhar was the commander of the Fatimid force, but 
with him was another who played an important part in 
the subsequent construction of the Fatimid state in 
Etfvpt. Yaqub b. Killis was a native of Baghdad, bv 
origin and for many years bv religion a Jew. His 
father sent him first to'Svria, then to Egypt, where he 
became a chamberlain to Kafur, then received a seat 
on the privy council and acted ns accountant and 


treasurer. He became a Muslim in 356* At Kafur's 
death he was arrested by his rival the wazir Ibn al- 
Furat, but by bribing his gaolers he managed to escape 
and fled to Kairawan. The expedition against Egypt 
was already in full preparation, but he joined himself 
with Jawhar and proved a useful adviser. He was 
commonly regarded as the instigator of the enterprise, 
but this does not seem to be accurate. 

Jawhar's start was made on the i4th of Rabi 1 II. 358 
(A.D. 969). Al-Mo'izz attended with his court to bid 
him farewell. During this meeting the general stood 
before the Khalif, who leaned down on his horse's neck 
and spoke to him privately for some time. The Khalif 
then ordered his sons to dismount and give Jawhar the 
salutation of departure; this obliged all the great 
officers of state to dismount also. Jawhar then, kissed 
the hand of the Khalif and the hoof of his horse and, 
m'ounting at his master's command, gave the word! for 
the whole force to march. When al-Mo'izz returned to 
his palace he sent as a present to Jawhar all the clothes 
he had been wearing at the farewell interview, save 
only his drawers and signet ring. At the same time 
he sent forward orders to Aflah, the governor of Barqa, 
that he should set out to meet Jawhar and kiss his hand, 
Aflah offered a gift of 100,000 dinars to be permitted 
to escape this act of homage, but was obliged to submit 
(Ibn Khali, i. 341-2). 

Jawhar first advanced upon Alexandria. The city 
capitulated on liberal terms ; there was no pillage and 
no violence to any of the inhabitants, as Jawhar was 
able to restrain his well-paid army in admirable 

The news of Jawhar's approach caused great dismay 
in Fustat. It was decided that the wazir Ibn al-Furat 
should write to him and ask for peace with security for 
the lives and property of the citizens. At the same time 
Abu Ja'far Muslim b. 'Ubayd Allah, an emir of high 
standing, and an acknowledged descendant of Husavn 
the son of 'AH, was asked to go in person to plead with 
Jawhar, it being 1 assumed that an 'Alid envoy would 
carry weight with the Shi'ites. Abu Ja'far consented 
on condition that a company of citizens went with 
him (id.)- 

The deputation set out on Monday, the iSth of Rajab 


358 (=18 June, 969) and met Jawhar at Tanija, a 
village not far from Alexandria. They delivered their 
appeal to him, and he immediately granted all their 
requests, and confirmed his promised by a written 
statement. With this the envoys returned to Fustat, 
where they arrived on the 7th of Shaban. The wazir 
Ibn al-Furat rode out to meet them, read Jawhar's 
statement, and handed to each of his companions who 
had written to Jawhar asking for appointments under 
the new government his replies, which were in all cases 
favourable. Some time was spent then in discussion, 
but the informal gathering dispersed without agreeing 
to any uniform attitude towards the invaders. The 
city was still in great alarm, and the adherents of the 
Ikhshids, the officers who had served under Kafur and 
some of the army, determined to reject Jawhar's pro- 
offered peace and to make armed resistance. Valuables 
were concealed, a camp was formed, and Nahrir ash- 
Shoizai was chosen general. Under his leadership the 
Egyptian army marched out to Giza and set companies 
to guard the bridges. 

On the nth of Shaban, Jawhar arrived, having been 
informed of the intended resistance. He took several 
prisoners and marched to Muniat as-Sayadin (the 
village of the fishermen) and seized the ford of Muniat 
Shalkan.' At this some of the Egyptian troops passed 
over in boats and surrendered, but the men on the 
Fustat side put a guard at the forcl. Then Jawhar 
stripped to his trousers, and at the head of (his men 
waded into the river, and thus arrived at the other side 
where they attacked the defenders and killed a con- 
siderable number. Night had now approached, and 
under the cover of darkness the rest of the defenders 
fled from the cily, carrying off from their houses what- 
ever they rould. A deputation of wives waited on Abu 
Ja'far asking him to write to Jawhar and obtain, if 
possible, a renewal of his previous offers of peace. Abu 
Ja'far wrote as requested ; the Fatimid general readily 
assented, and issued an order to the troops forbidding 
pillage and violence. At Ihis the city recovered its 
confidence, the bazars were re-opened, and commercial 
life went on its normal course (Ibn Khali, i, 343)* 

On Tuesday, the i?th Shaban, by Jawhar's order, a 
deputation of leading officials, sharifs, the learned, and 


prominent citizens went out to Giza, By orders 
announced by a herald everyone except the wazir Ibn 
al-Furat and the Sharif Abu Ja'far, dismounted and 
saluted Jawhar in turn, the Fatimite general standing 
with the Sharif on his rig-lit hand, the AYazir on his 
left. After this ceremony was concludeS the envoys 
returned to the city, and the troops commenced their 
entry with arms and baggage. After the 'Asr or hour 
of mid-afternoon prayer Jawhar himself made his entry 
preceded by drums and flags; he wore a silk dress 
heavily embroidered with gold, and rode a cream 
coloured horse. He rode straight through the city with 
his men, and passing out on the north-east side pitched 
camp there. 

Late in the evening in the camping ground he marked 
out a great square of 1,200 yards base, and men were 
stationed, spade; in hand, ready to start the foundations 
of this new city, or rather royal suburb, when the signal 
was given. The projected lines, all sketched out by 
al-Mo'izz him'self beforehand, were marked with pegs, 
and bells were hung from connected ropes so that a 
signal might be given for the simultaneous turning of 
tho first sod. Meanwhile the astrologers were busy 
calculating the propitious moment for the birth of the 
city. Unexpectedly, however, a raven settling down 
on one of the ropes set all the bells jingling, and the 
men at once thrust their spades into the soil. It was 
too late to check them, though the astrologers found 
that it was a most inauspicious moment as the planet 
ul~Kak\r (Mars) was in the ascendant. There was 
nothing for it but to accept the omen, and the city 
thus commenced was named al-Kahira (Cairo), or more 
fully <il-Kahira al-Mahrusa (the guarded city of Mars). 
It was designed as a royal suburb to be entirely devoted 
to palaces and official buildings, inncrcssible to the 
general public, similar to the rity of al-Mnhammadiya 
outside Kairawan. In course of time, however, the 
main part of the population of Fustat migrated to 
Kahira, and it is now the most populous city in the 
whole of Africa. 

Fustat, or Mtsr al-Atika, or simply Misr, was the old 
Arab city founded in A.H, 21 soon after the conquest. 
In 133 the suburb of al-'Askar to the north-east was 


added, but this was simply cantonments for the govern- 
ment officials, and was not accessible to the ordinary 
citizens. Al-Qatai' " the wards/' a kind of additional 
cantonments intended for the foreign mercenary troops, 
was added in 256, but was partially destroyed by the 
later 'Abbasid governors and finally abandoned. Al- 
Kahira stood further to the north-east, and it was after 
the burning of Fustat in 564 that the population 
generally began to colonize this suburb. 

When the people came out from the city next 
morning to Jawhar's camp they found, to their un- 
bounded surprise, that the foundations of the new city 
had been dug during the night. For six days after 
the troops continued entering the old city, passing 
through, and going out to the new suburb where was 
Jawhar's camp. News of the successful occupation of 
Egypt was without delay sent to the Khalif, and with 
it were the heads of the Egyptians slain at the ford. 

Jawhar now issued orders that all mention of the 
'Abbasid Khalif at Baghdad in the Friday prayer must 
cease, and in place of his name the coinage must bear 
the inscription bt-smi mula'i l-Mo'izv, f( in the name of 
my master al-Mo'izz." At the same time the preachers 
in the mosques were forbidden to wear the black 
garments usual under the 'Abbasids, and were ordered 
to use white, a similar order being issued to public 
officials generally. It was ordered that every Sunday a 
court should be held for the " Inspection of com- 
plaints," for the hearing of petitions against officials 
and against the administration, the Ka'id or military 
governor, i.e., Jawhar himself, being present as weU as 
She Wazir, Qadi, and a number of men learned in the 
law, so that those who had complaints against officials 
which lay outside the scope of the ordinary law courts 
might obtain redress. The court did not try cases, but 
on hearing a complaint referred it to the proper qadi 
with orders to see that it received attention* The 
decision was then sent to the court of " Inspection of 
complaints," and written out in substance by a secre- 
tary, and then passed on to another secretary who put 
the summary in full legal form. This was taken to the 
Khalif who confirmed it, and this authoritative decision 
was then communicated to the petitioner, who had the 


e protection of the stale behind him in putting it 
into effect. 

( )n Friday, the 8th of Dhu 1-Kaada, in the hhutba, 
the words were added, " O my God, bless Muhammad 
the rhosen, 'Ali the accepted", Fatima the pure, and 
al -Hasan and al-Husayn, the grandsons of the Apostle, 
whom ihou hast freed from stain and thoroughly 
purified. my God, bless the pure Imams, ancestors 
of Ihti Commanders of the faithful " (Ibn Khali, i. 344). 
This was at once a profession ofShi'ite faith, and an 
a,ssiTlion of the rlaim of al-Mo'izz to be descended from 
tlir house of 'Ali. There is no sign that any appre- 
ciable number of the Egyptian sberame converts to 
Shi'ite views : for the most part these claims were 
ngurdd with complete apathy until the celebration of 
Hut great Shi'ite festival of the Muharram, when there 
wos somes rioting. The people at large acquiesced in 
the new rule without paying any attention to its 
religious claims. 

On Friday, the i8th of Rabi' II. ,359, the Ka'id 
Jnwlmr himself presided at the public prayers and 
sermon in the Old Mosque, that is the Mosque of 'Amr. 
The building th^n existing had been erected by 
'Abdullah b, Tahir in 212, and is still standing, ft 
escaped destruction when the city was burned, but 
suffered a disastrous restoration in A.D. 1798. At this 
service many soldiers were present. The preacher was 
'Alxlu tf-Sami b. Umar aI-*Abbasi who in the khulba 
mncle rsperinl mention of the " people of the house," 
?V, r the family of 'AH, and prayed for the Ka'id, 
although Jnwhnr did not approve of his own name being 
(hu.s mentioned, saying that no authority for it had 
bwn given in the instructions he had received from al- 
Mo'ixx* In the call to prayer the Shi'ite custom of 
adding the words " come to the excellent work " was 
adopted* In the month of Jumacla 1. lliis addition was 
rmuirt in the rail to prayer at the Old Mosque, at which 
Jnwlinr was greatly pleased, and made a report of the 
circumstance to thft Khalif (Ibn Klinll. i. 344-5). 

Mrcinwliilft progress was being made with the build- 
ing of al-Knhim, The new city was surrounded with a 
wail of large bricks, of which the last fragments were 
observed by Maqrizi in A,TX 1400. In the middle of the 
enclosure was an open space, the Bayn <&* 


Kasrayn, " between the two palaces," as it was after- 
wards called, large enough for 10,000 troops to be 
paraded : a small portion of this open space remains 
as the Suq an-Nahhasm. On the east was the Khahf's 
palace; one corner of its site is now marked by the 
Khan al-Khalili, another by the Husanayn Mosque. 
The name of the square was of later date, and due to 
the fact that al-Mo'izz's successor built a lesser palace 
on its west side, at the beginning of the beautiful 

farden which Kafur had laid out, and which the 
atimid Khalifs maintained. A great thoroughfare led 
through the midst of Kahira from the Bab al-Zuwayla 
on the south side, communicating with the old city of 
Fustat, and passing through the Bayn al-Kasrayn to 
the Bab al-Futah, which led out to the open country 
on the north. To the north of the Khalif's palace lay 
the Wazir's official residence, and to the south the 
mosque of al-Azhar, which Jawhar commenced soon 
after the foundation of Kahira and finished on the ?th 
of Ramadan, 361. Although the existing building has 
been much modernised it retains enough of the older 
structure to show the typical character of Fatimid 
architecture. The horse shoe arch, commonly re* 
garded as of Persian origin, seems to have been 
developed in Egypt, and appears first in the Nilometer 
and then in the mosque of Ibn Tulun : it had an Indian 
parentage, and was not introduced into Persia until it 
had already been employed in Egypt (Rivoira : Moslem 
Architecture, E.T. 154, etc.), at least no dated example 
is found until later than the mosque of al-Azhar. The 
Fatimid style shows this horse-shoe arch combined 
jrith high imposts which occur in the mosque of Ziadat 
"Allah in Kairawan (A.H, 816-^37); " nor does it seem 
an unnatural conjecture that it was Jauhar, not only a 
distinguished general^ but also a man of letters, and 
therefore of culture, who suggested the form to some 
Christian architect of Egypt: and that, under these 
circumstances, the designer of the building, wishing to 
endow it with some distinctive feature marking the 
accession of the new dynasty, modified the pointed arch 
of Tulun's time under the influence of the Indian 'cyma 
reversa ' or ogee arch " (Rivoira : op* cit. 157). 

In general plan, style, the use of brick piers, etc., 
the mosque of al-Azhar followed the model of the 


mosque of Ibn Tulun, and so was a development of 
Egyptian native taste. The minaret was of heavy- 
square type with outside stairs which has always re- 
mained popular in western Islam. 

The most novel feature introduced by the Fatimid 
architects was the pendentive, lEe pensile cusped 
framing arch over a recessed angle. This appears 
clearly in the interior of the dome of the mihrab in the 
mosque of al-Hakim, commenced in 380 but not com- 
pleted until 404. But this reproduces the pendentive 
as it appears in the mosque of Cordova (A.H. 350-366) 
in the bay in the front of the mihrab, and had its pre- 
cursor more than four centuries before in the church 
of St. Vitale at Ravenna. 

It is impossible, therefore, to connect Fatimid archi- 
tecture with Persia : obviously it was developed out of 
the older Egyptian Muslim style under the influence of 
western and European, i.e., Italo-Greek, models. As 
usual, art is a clear indication of the general line of 
culture contact and intellectual influences. Though 
Asiatic and Persian in origin the Fatimids were, by 
their heretical character, entirely cut off from the Islamic 
world in Asia, a severance which the Fatimid rule in 
Syria, being one of purely military occupation, did not 
bridge over, Isolated in art, it was isolated in philo- 
sophy and literature, although this isolation from the 
Muslim world at large was richly compensated by its 
close contact with Shi'ite circles, and by some contact 
with the Greek and Roman Empire along the shores of 
the Mediterranean. 

The wall surrounding the whole city of Kahira was 
finished in 359, To its south-east lay the old city which 
remained the centre of commercial and non-official life 
until the end of the Fatimid dynasty, and to the west 
the suburbs of Maqs, which extended down to the river 
and remained the port of Cairo until the shifting of the 
Nile in the i3-i4th cent. A.D. gave the opportunity for 
the building of Bulaq. 

The first serious problem with which Jawhar had to 
deal was the famine due to the successive bad Niles. 
Fortunately al-Mo'izz had sent a number of ships laden 
with grain as soon as he heard that Jawhar had 
occupied the country, and this caused some temporary 
relief in the city, and showed the people that they had 


a ruler anxious to assist them. At the same time Jawhar 
established a public corn exchange under an inspector 
(muhtasib), who had to prevent hoarding and excessive 
prices, and several offending millers were flogged. Of 
course these primitive expedients produced no serious 
relief, although they evoked the sympathy of the people, 
and a state of famine continued until the end of 360, 
and there were still cases of plague. In the following 
winter, i.e., in the early months of 361 (October, etc., 
of A.D. 971), the famine cam'e to an end, and m the 
course of the next few months the country began to 
recover, and as a consequence the plague disappeared 

In the year 361 an Ikhsihid officer m the district of 
Bashmur revolted, but was put down, chased to 
Palestine, captured there, and put to death. So far 
there had been very little reluctance to the change of 
government, in this insignificant revolt as in the first 
efforts to oppose Jawhar it is only a few of the Ikhshid 
officials who seem to feel the slightest grievance. 

Jawhar now felt anxious to raise the prestige of 
Egypt, which had suffered greatly since the death of 
the first Ikhshid governor. In 355 the Nubians had 
invaded the country, so now in 362 he sent an embassy 
to king George of Nubia, inviting him to become a 
Muslim and to pay tribute. The Nubians,* it must be 
noted, remained Christians down to the I4th cent. A.U. 
The embassy was politely received, tribute was paid, 
but no further reference was made to religious differ* 

Jawhar found that as ruler of Egypt he was necessarily 
involved in the politics of Syria, some portions of which 
had been, at least nominally, part of the Ikhshid 
dominions* Indeed, Egypt never has been free from 
Syrian connections, either in ancient, mediaeval, or 
modern history. At this time independent Shi'ite 
princes were ruling at Aleppo, and Husayn the Ikhshid, 
who had returned to Syria after plundering the Wazir 
Ibn al-Furat, held his own at Ramla. Against him 
Jawhar sent his lieutenant Ja'far b. Fellah, who 
attacked and defeated him. Husayn was brought a 
prisoner to Fustat, publicly exposed as a proof of the 
power of the Fatimids, and viewed with great satis- 
faction by the inhabitants of the Egyptian city who 
remembered his cruelties. He was then sent on to a 


prison in Ifrikiya, where he died in 371. After 
defeating Husayn, Ja'far marched north and occupied 
Damascus. But this brought the Fatimids into conflict 
with the Qarmatians, for Damascus had for some time 
past been paying tribute to the Qarmatian leader Hasan 
fa, Ahmad, and this payment was now stopped. After 
the death of Abu Sa'id, the kabir of the Qarmatians, 
in 301, as we have already noted, the leadership was 
held temporarily by Abu 1-Kasim Sa'id, and then 
passed to Abu Tahir Sulayman who attacked Mecca. 
Abu Tahir died in 332, as well as a third son of Abu 
Sa ( id named Abu Mansur Ahmad. Then the eldest 
brother, Abu 1-Kasim, resumed the leadership. In 360, 
the date we have now reached, the chieftain was Hasan 
b. Ahmad (Abu 1-Feda, Ann. Moslem, ii. 325, 350, 
509). It seems that at this time there had been a com- 
plete rupture between the Shi'ites of Africa and the 
Asiatic Qarmatians, though we are quite in the dark 
as to when or why this took place. It may have arisen 
from this attack upon the tribute paying city of 
Damascus, which the Qarmatians regarded as aggres- 
sive : or it may have had an earlier origin, perhaps in 
the relaxation of Isma'ilian doctrine and practice 
amongst the African Shi'ites when they accommodated 
themselves to the tone generally current at Kairawan, 
Now Hasan had no hesitation in proposing an alliance 
with the orthodox Khalif of Baghdad against the 
Fatimids, but this was rejected by the Khalif with 
contempt. The Shi'ile Buwayhid prince who was the 
real ruler of 'Iraq, however, was more complaisant, and 
a third ally was found in the Hamdanid prince of 
Rabha on the Euphrates, whilst various Arab tribes, 
always ready to join in any fighting and usually as 
much an embarrassment to their allies as to their 
enemies, readily agreed to take part. Thus helped 
Hasan captured Damascus and celebrated his achieve- 
ment by the public cursing of al-Mo'izz in the great 
Mosque. Theoretically, the Qarmatians professed to 
believe in the divine right of the Fatimid Imam, and 
so this cursing seems strange. It may be that the 
people of Damascus, who were fanatically anti-Shi'ite, 
were responsible, or it may be that the Qarmatiarts no 
longer troubled to pretend an attachment to the reputed 
house of 'Ali, but displayed their total indifference to 


all religious considerations without reserve. After 
taking Damascus Hasan marched south rapidly and, 
avoiding Jaffa where Ja'far and his army were stationed, 
passed through Ramla and made a lightning descent 
on Egypt itself. He surprised Kulzurn (Suez) and 
Farama (al-Arish), and thus commanded the whole 
Isthmus of Suez, whilst Tmms declared in hisi favour. 
He then advanced into the country and encamped at 
*Ayn Shams (Heliopolis), and threatened Cairo. 
Jawhar had commenced defensive measures as soon as 
he heard that Hasan had reached the Isthmus and had 
made a trench before the city. The real danger lay in 
the possible treachery of officials of the old regime, 'and 
a spy was told off to watch Ibn al-Furat. At the same 
time men were sent to Hasan's army who, under the 
pretence of being discontented citizens, made treacher- 
ous overtures to its officers, After some delay Hasan 
attempted to storm the trench, but was driven back 
with heavy losses, the most surprising incident being 
the unexpected courage shewn by the Egyptian 
volunteers who were enrolled in Jawhar's army. A 
number of Ikhshid officers who were serving with 
Hasan were taken prisoner, and Hasan was compelled 
to retire to Kulzum, leaving his baggage to be plun- 
dered by the Egyptians. 

News of the attack on Egypt had been sent to al- 
Mo'izz, and soon after the defeat reinforcements arrived 
from Kairawan under Ibn 'Ammar. Thus supported 
Jawhar advanced on Tinnis, which was now penitent 
for its defection nnd was pardoned. A Qarmatian 
fleet which had sailed up the Nile to support Hasan 
fled hurriedly, and was obliged to abandon seven 
vessels and some 500 prisoners. 

Jawhar had effectively repelled the Qarmatian in- 
vasion, and acted prudently in following up the 
retreating enemy and relieving Jaffa. Hasan fell back 
upon Damascus, but after fc some delay there began to 
recover and commenced preparations for a new attempt. 

At this juncture Jawhar felt that the time had arrived 
when al-Mo'izz ought to be commanding in Egyptian in 
person, and wrote earnestly entreating him to come and 
take up the reins of government, and this appeal 
decided the Khalif to remove from Kairawan to Cairo. 

Early in 363 al-Mo'izz appointed Bolukkin b. Ziri 


of the Sanhaja tribe as deputy in Ifnkiya, advising him 
44 never cease levying contributions on the nomadic 
Arabs, and keeping the sword on the (necks of the) 
Berbers; never appoint any of your own brothers or 
cousins to a place of authority, for they imagine that 
they have a better right than you to the power with 
which you arc invested; and treat with favour the 
dwellers in towns " (Ibn Khali, i. 267). 

Having thus provided for the government of Ifnkiya 
nl-Mo'izz then set out. Passing by Qabus, Tripoli, 
Ajdabiya, and Barqa, he reached Alexandria in the 
course of the spring, and there received the Qadi of 
Fuslat and other officials. At the beginning of the 
summer he encamped in the gardens of the monastery 
at Gi/a, and there received Jawhar who came out to 
welcome him on his arrival. After resting a short time 
ho made his solemn entry into the capital. Although 
Fustat was decorated readv for his coming, he paid it 
no visit, but marched straight to his palace in Kahira 
whore he took up his abode. In this solemn entry the 
coffins of the three Khalifs who had been his pre- 
docessois wore carried in the first ranks, oscortcd by 
two slate elephants, and the Kliahf himself rode sur- 
roundod by his four sons and other kinsmen. He 
entered the royal city by the " gate of the arch," one of 
tlio two openings in the Bab "az-Zuwayla. The other 
opening which no longer existed in Maqrizi's time was 
generally regarded as unlucky. This bab is now 
rommonly regarded as the mysterious dwelling place 
of (lie head of all the darwishes who, wherever he may 
be, is supposed to be able to fly in spirit to this abode, 
and there the spirit is placated. The legends con- 
nected with this pate seem to have varied from age to 
age, but it has always been regarded as haunted by 
mysterious presences, 

'Soon after taking up his abode in the royal palace, 
on the reat feast day which terminates the fast of 
Rnmndan, nl-Mo'i%z conducted prayers in the newly 
finished mosque of al~A%hnr which, it will be remem- 
bered, lay within the guarded precincts, and so was 
not accessible to the public. The mosque, commenced 
by Jawhar in 360, had been completed in 361. In 378 
the following Khalif, al-'Aziz, devoted it especially to 


the learned, and from this it has gradually become the 
leading university of Islam. 

But al-Mo'izz was not able to remain as a sacred 
character in the seclusion of the guarded city, although 
that perhaps was his first intention. The Qarmatians 
were still threatening. Al-Mo'izz wrote to Hasan pro- 
posing negotiations, but the Qarmati chief merely 
replied, " I have received thy letter, full of words, but 
empty of sense : I will bring my answer." 

In the following spring the Qarmatians appeared 
again at 'Ayn Shams, and helped by Ikhshid partisans, 
spread far and wide through Egypt. -Al-Mo'izz sent 
his son 'Abdullah with some 4,000 men into Lower 
Egypt and he gained several minor advantages over 
some of the marauding bands of Qarmalians, but this 
did not prevent the main body from assembling before 
Jawhar's trench which they prepared lo assault, By 
means of spies the Khahf managed to bribe the Arab 
tribe of B. Tayy, the strongest factor in Hasan's army, 
allies but not themselves of the Oarmatian sect, to 
desert, the price being 100,000 dinars. As the treasury 
did not contain sufficient gold these coins were specially 
struck of lead and gilt. In the nc 4 xt attack the 13, Tayv 
rode away and Hasan was routed, his camp plundered, 
and some 1,500 of his irregular followers slain. The 
advantage was pressed home by the Egyptians who 
advanced into Syria, but after this defeat the Qarma- 
tians began to fall to pieces as the result of internal 

The defeat of the Qarmatians was followed by the 
appearance of a new danger in the person of the 
Turkish leader Haftakin, This man had been a slave 
in the service of the Buwayhid prince, Mo'izz ad-Dawla, 
and rose to a leading position in command of the 
Turkish mercenaries under his son Azz ad-Dawla 
Bakhtiar (Maq. ii. 9). In the course of a battle which 
took place outside Baghdad between the Turks and 
the Daylamites, Haftakin, though himself acting with 
exemplary courage, was deserted by most of his men 
and compelled to flee with a small body of some 400 
followers. At first he look refuge at Rabha on the 
Euphrates, but afterwards moved to Syria. The Syrian 
Arabs were alarmed at his approach, and appealed for 
help to Ibn Ja'far, the Fatimite governor of Damascus, 


who was easily convinced that Haftakin was acting on 
behalf of the 'Abbasid Khahf of Baghdad, and so took 
the field against him. But the Emir of Aleppo sent a 
force under the eunuch Bashara to the help of Haftakin, 
and as soon as this became known the Arabs deserted 
Ja'far and went home. Bashara then escorted Haftakin 
to Aleppo (Abu 1-Feda) or Emessa (Maqrizi), where 
the Emir received him well and bestowed on him manv 

At Damascus Ja'far was faced with a discontented 
group of citizens, and they even formed themselves 
into armed bands under the leadership of one Ibn 
Maward. As soon as these men heard of Haftakin's 
arrival in Syria, they opened negotiations with him and 
invited him to Damascus, promising to join him in 
expelling the Fatimid garrison and to recognise him 
as emir. Damascus, it must be remembered, was 
fanatical in its hatred of the Shi'ites. Haftakin agreed 
to these proposals, and towards the end of Shaban 364 
proceeded as far as Thaniyyat al-Okab on the road to 

At this juncture Ibn Ja'far heard that the Greeks 
were intending to make an attack upon Tripoli in Syria, 
and so marched his forces out of Damascus to intercept 
them. This gave Haftakin his opportunity, and he 
was able to enter Damascus without opposition. After 
a brief stay there he went down to Ba'albak to chastise 
the Arabs who had taken up arms to assist Ja'far 
against him, but was surprised by a large Greek force, 
which was pillaging Ba'albak and laying waste the 
surrounding country : he was only just able to escape 
before them and seek safety in Damascus whither the 
Greeks soon followed him. The citizens sent out an 
embassy to ask for terms, and were informed that the 
city would be spared in return for a substantial fine, 
Soon Haftakin went out to the Greek camp and 
explained that he was unable to raise the promised fine 
because of the obstacles put in his way by Ibn Maward 
and his partisans, the free militia of Damascus. As a 
result of this the Greek Emperor, John Tzimisces, sent 
officers into the city, who arrested Ibn Maward and! 
brought him out a prisoner. By this means the city 
was cleared of its irregular forces and Haftakin took 
full possession, raising the sum of 30,000 pieces of gold 


as a fine with great rigour. He paid the sum to the 
Greeks, who forthwith retired to Beirut and thence to 

Thus Haftakin became absolute master of Damascus, 
and formally recognised the suzerainty of the 'Abbasid 
Khalif of Baghdad. He was afraid, however, that the 
Fatimid Khalif would before long take steps to recover 
his hold over Syria, and so wrote to the Qarmatians 
at Lahsa, their headquarters in the Bahrayn, asking 
them to ally themselves with him against al-Mo'izz. 
They accepted these proposals and a large body of them 
arrived before Damascus in 365, where they encamped 
for a few days; after resting and conferring vuth 
Haftakin they passed on to Ramla, where the Fatimid 
general Ibn Ja'far was m command, and at their 
approach he retired to Jaffa, and they occupied Ramla. 
Meanwhile HafLakin, as agreed with the Qarmatians, 
marched along the coast, and at Sa'ida (Sidon) engaged 
two subordinate Fatimite generals, Dhalim b. Marhub 
and Ibn ash-Sheikh, whom he defeated* Dhalim then 
withdrew to Tyre, and Haftakin had the hands of the 
slain of the Fa'timite army cut off and sent as a trophy 
to Damascus (Maq. li. 9). 

Just about this time the Khalif al-Mo'izz died, his 
son 'Abdullah having pre-deceased him. He had spent 
only two years in Egypt but, besides the decisive 
repulse of the Qarmatians, he had established a govern- 
ment, which on the whole was a fair one and kept good 
order in the land. To avoid racial disputes, such as 
had disturbed Kairawan, he settled his African troops 
at al-Khandaq near 'Ayn Shams and, although they 
were allowed to visit Fustat freely during the day, an 
were required to leave the city before nightfall. In 
dealing with the inhabitants ,of Egypt both al-Mo'izz 
and Jawhar put aside all prejudices, whether of race or 
religion, and took a simply practical attitude, at heart 
no doubt regarding all religions as equally worthless. 
The Copts were as a rule far more efficient as clerks, 
accountants, and scribes, than their Muslim fellow 
countrymen, and they, as well as some Greek Christians, 
were largely employed in all the subordinate branches 
of the administration, and even to rise to some of the 
higher offices. As a practical measure ttiis was 



thoroughly satisfactory, but the fact that the tax col- 
lectors and practically all the finance officials were 
Christians or Jews, caused the gradual evolution of a 
strong feeling of dislike against members of these two 
religions, Undoubtedly also the methods of oriental 
finance gave opportunity for much oppression and dis- 
honesty, and the Copts and Jews were unable to avoid 
these temptations, so that much of the prejudice felt 
against them was justified. Although the employment 
of Christians and Jews in the civil service is more or 
less an established tradition in Muslim lands, it was 
carried much further by the Fatimids than had been 
usually the case. 

Al-Mo'izz entrusted the task of organising a new 
system of taxation to the converted Jew, Ibn Killis, 
who had had experience of administrative work under 
Kafur, and to 'Asluj, The old system of farming out 
the taxes was abolished and the whole was centralised, 
whilst at the same time a new assessment of land and 
taxable sources was made. All arrears wcse rigorously 
called up, but very careful consideration was given to 
eveiy appeal and complaint. The whole system of 
taxation was strictly enforced, but efforts were made 
to protect the tax-paying community from unjust 
exactions. As a result the revenue of the state was 
considerably increased, the daily takings in the city of 
Fustat alone ranging between 50,000 and 120,000 
dinars. At the same time, however, al-Mo'izz com- 
menced an extravagant expenditure on the erection of 
the royal suburb of Kahira, and this was followed 
by ostentatious and luxurious outlay on an unpre- 
cedented scale, so that the actual financial position of 
the government was not much improved on the whole, 
A taste for display became a characteristic of the 
Fatimid dynasty, and this tended to exert a demoralis- 
ing 1 influence on the community generally by raising 
the general standard of expenditure. 


(A.H. 365-386=A.D, 975-996) 

AL-Mo'izz was succeeded by his son Nizar, who took 
the name al>Imain Nisar Abu Mansur aVAziz bi~llah, 
and so is generally known as al-'Aziz. Although his 
father's death took place in the early part of 365, it was 
concealed for some time until it seemed that the suc- 
cession was secure, and the formal proclamation was 
deferred until the Feast of Sacrifice on Thursday, the 
4th of Rabi' II. 365. The traditional picture of al- 
'Aziz represents him as humane, generous, a fearless 
hunter, and a successful general. Like his father he 
had a strong taste for building t and erected a great 
mosque in Kahira, generally known as the Mosque of 
al-Hakim, as it was finished by his son Hakim, near 
the Bab al-Futuh : besides this he built the " Palace 
of gold " facing his father's palace across the great 
square in the midst of Kahira, also a mosque in the 
cemetery of al-Karafa, and a palace at 'Ayn Shams 
(Ibn Khali, rii. 325). These can hardly be called public 
buildings in the true sense as they were all connected 
with the royal court, and as such were within the pre- 
cincts of the "guarded city" and inaccessible to the 
public generally. In person al-'Aziz was tall, broad 
shouldered, with reddish hair, and eyes large and of a 
dark blue colour : in Arab opinion there is something 
sinister in such hair and eyes. He was not only fond 
of sport, but had also a marked taste for literature, and 
was particularly adept at composing epigrams. Ac- 
cording to Ibn Khillikan who, as a partisan of the 
*Abbasids t delights in reporting anecdotes to the 
detriment of the Fatimid Khalifs, he once addressed 
a derisive and sarcastic letter to al-Hakini, the Umayyad 
of Spain, who replied, " You satiric us because you 


have heard of us ; had we ever heard of you we should 
reply " (Ibn Khali, lii. 525). 

The Fatimid Khalifs were not able to maintain 
their somewhat dubious pedigree above the reach of 
criticism. In Egypt there were many undoubted 
descendants of 'Ah, and some of these, as well as other 
people, were strongly inclined to resent the Khalifs 1 
pretensions. No serious credence can be given to the 
story that al-Mo'izz was examined on this subject at 
his first entry into Egypt, and simply displayed ihis 
sword as his title to the throne (cf. 49, above), but no 
doubt many criticisms were passed in private. One 
day, when al-'Aziz ascended the pulpit in the Old 
Mosque he found before him a paper on which was 
written : ' * We have heard a doubtful genealogy pro- 
"* claimed from the pulpit of the mosque : if what you 
' say be true, name your ancestors to the fifth degree. 

* If you wish to prove your assertion, give us your 
1 genealogy, one that is as certain as that of at-Ta'i. 

* If not, leave your pedigree in the shade and enter 
' with us in the great family which includes all man- 
t kind. The most ambitious vainly strive to have a 
'genealogy like that of the sons of Hashim n (Ibn 

Khali, lii. 525). The "sons of Hashim" means (he 
'Abbasids, of whom at-Ta'i was then the reigning 
Khahf. The incident seems probable enough as the 
Egyptians generally were not at all in sympathy with 
ShVite claims; it seems, however, that there was a 
growing feeling even amongst Fatimid supporters that 
the Kiialif would do well to discard the Shi'ite religious 
theories which were now of no assistance to the dynasty, 
and that he would do better if he posed frankly as a 
secular ruler. Probably this feeling had commenced 
to form soon after the execution of Abu 'Abdullah in 
the time of the first Fatimid : we shall see it gathering 
force under the son of al-'Aziz, and finally deciding 
the Fatimids to cast aside all the quasi religious and 
mystical pretensions which had been adopted at the 
formation of the sect by 'Abdullah, the son of Maymun. 
Like his father, al-'Aziz was favourably disposed 
towards the Copts and other Christians, but in his case 
a pro Christian attitude was emphasized by the fact 
that tie had a Christian wife whose two brothers were, 
by the Khalifs influence, appointed Malkite patriarchs, 


thai is to say, patriarchs of the church in communion 
with the orthodox Greek Church as distinguished from 
the Jacobite body to whidh the Copts belonged, the 
one at Alexandria, the other in Jerusalem. The 
Khalif 's favour was extended to the Coptic Church as 
well as to the Malkite body to which his wife belonged, 
and permission was given to the Coptic patriarch 
Efraim to rebuild the ruinous church of Abu s-Seyfeyn 
in Fustat. Al-'Aziz exceeded his predecessors in the 
ostentatious display of wealth, introducing new fashions 
of Persian origin, such as turbans of cloth of gold, 
gold inlain armour, and other splendours which were 
copied by the courtiers and nobles. At one time he 
spent a sum nearly equivalent to ^'12,000 on a mag- 
nificent silk curtain from Persia. 

Al-Mo'izz had left his successor a difficult problem 
in Syria. From the first Syria was the (hardest burden 
which the Fatimids had to assume by their entry into 
the heritage of Egypt, and it is worth remembering 
that, of the three pieces of advice which Ibn Killis 
gave to the Khalif as the great wazir was on his death 
bed, the two first were, try to keep peace with the 
Greeks, and " be content if the Hamdanids of Aleppo 
mention your name in the Friday piayer and put it on 
their coinage." The ambition to control Syria has 
always been the fatal temptation of the sovereigns of 
Egypt, in the days of the ancient Pharaohs as at every 
period of subsequent history, and the great minister 
was undoubtedly wise in advising the Khalif not to 
seek more than a formal recognition of suzerainty. At 
this moment, however, it was no matter of choice. The 
Qarmatians had threatened the gates of Cairo, and were 
now in alliance with Haftakin, who had ejected the 
Fatimid governor from Damascus : it seemed that the 
prestige, and petfhaps the existence of the Fatimids, 
depended on their dealing with Haftakin. 

Al-'Aziz entrusted the problem of Syria to the general 
Jawhar who was put at the head of a large army. The 
news of his approach found the Qarmatians at Ramla, 
and Haftakin encamped before Acca. The Qarmatians 
fell into panic when they heard of Jawhar's corning, 
fled from Ramla and allowed him to take possession 
of the town. Some of the Qarmatians retired to 
their own territory of al-'Ahsa in the Bahrayn, whilst 


others dispersed in all directions, Haftakin heard, of 
this and saw himself deprived of his allies, and "so 
retired to Tiberias where he rallied round himy some of 
the scattered Qarmatians and then, helped by his own 
Turkish levies, prepared to give battle to Jawhar. 
First he raised supplies from the Hauran and from 
Bathniyya, one of the districts near Damascus and then, 
having provisioned the city for a seige, determined to 
wait the Egyptian general there. Towards the end of 
the month of Dhu 1-Kaada Jawtiar arrived and pitched 
camp before Damascus, surrounding his carrip with a 
deep trench and making regular openings for his men 
to pass in and out. Haftakin entrusted one Qassam 
Sharrab a leader of the local irregular force which had 
evidently been revived in the city, with the task of 
arranging sorties and attacks on Jawhar's camp, and 
these went on until the nth of Rabi* II. of 366, when 
the local captain became disheartened as. these sorties 
did not produce any favourable results, and Haftakin 
himself was beginning to consider the expediency of 
attempting to escape from the city. Before abandoning 
Damascus, however, he made every effort to obtain 
assistance, and at last was cheered by the news that 
the Qarmatian Hasan b. Ahmad was marching to his 
relief. When Jawihar heard this he thought it prudent 
to propose terms to Haftakin, the more so because his 
own supplies were running short and, to Haftakin 's 
great delight, proposed to retire if he would refrain 
from pursuit. As this offer was at once assented to, 
Jawhar withdrew on the 3rd of Jumada 1 4 and went to 
Tiberias. As soon as the Qarm'atians heard of this 
they followed to Tiberias, but found that Jawhar had 
passed on to Ramla. They pursued as fast as they 
oould, and a small engagement took place. The Qar- 
matian leader Hasan b. Ahmad died at Ramla, and 
the office of feabt'r passed to his cousin Ja'far, the army 
being under the command of Yusuf, the last survivor 
of the six sons of Abu Sa'id (Abu 1-Feda: 4nn. 
Moslem, ii. 535). After this it became the custom* for 
the Qarmatians to put their forces under the control 
of six sa'ids, who formed a kind of elective military 
council , Very soon after Hasan's death they quarrelled 
with Haftakin and deserted him. Although the retire* 


ment of the Qarmatians left Haftakin in a less favour- 
able position he decided to give battle to Jawhar, with 
the result that he defeated him, and Jawhar was obliged 
to flee to Ascalon, leaving a vast booty in the victor's 
hands (Maqrizi, ii. 9-10). 

Elated by this success Haftakin advanced to besiege 
Ascalon, but the Khalif al-'Aziz had heard of the late 
reverse and prepared to march to his general's relief. 
The preparations in Egypt seem to have been delayed 
for some reason, and so Jawhar sent to Haftakin pro- 
posing terms of peace. It was agreed that Jawhar 
should pay a compensation to Haflakm and then both 
he and his men should be allowed to go away in peace, 
but should pass under Haftakm's sword. This was 
agreed and Haftakin's sword was suspended over one 
of the gates of Ascalon, and the Egyptian army moved 
out through this gate and marched homewards by the 
road through Ramla. On the way they met al-'Aziz 
marching to their relief, and the two forces joined 
together and turned back upon Haftakin. He was at 
Tiberias when he heard of this meeting and at once 
set out, and before long came into contact with the 
Fatimite army, with the result that the Turks were 
put to flight after an engagement lasting only a few 
minutes. This took place on Thursday, seven days 
before the end of the month of Muharram 368. 
Haftakin's body was sought amongst the many slain 
but was not found : later on he was brought in a 

Sisoner by some Arabs who had taken him in flight, 
e was led before al-'Aziz, who ordered him to be 
paraded through the troops, during which he had his 
beard pulled, and had to endure blows and insults of 
all sorts. The Fatimite then returned to Egypt carry- 
ing with it Haftakin and many other prisoners. 

When the Khalif reached Cairo he treated Haftakin 
with every consideration, supplying him with garments 
and presents, and assigned him a residence. In after 
times Haftakin, admitted to the Fatimid court as an 
honoured guest, used to say; " I blush to mount my 
horse in the presence of our lord *Aziz bi-llah, and dare 
not look at him because of the gifts and favours with 
which he overwhelms me." When al-'Aziz heard this 
be said to his uncle Haydara : " By God, my uncle. I 
love to see men covered with favours, shining with 


gold and silver and precious stones, and to think that 
all their fortune comes from me." The Khalif heard 
that some people found fault with his conduct towards 
Haftakin, and ordered him to be escorted through the 
city in magnificent apparel, and on his return presented 
him with a large sum of money, a number of robes of 
state, and ordered the chief men of the court to show 
him hospitality. After the courtiers had feasted him 
the Kihalif asked him how he approved of their ban- 
quets, and Haftakin replied that they were magnificent 
and that his hosts had loaded him with presents and 
compliments. It was the Khalif 's project to form a 
Turkish faction of military capacity which would 
counterpoise the weight of the Berber element which 
he regarded with some distrust. He put the Turks and 
Daylanntes who were in Cairo as prisoners under 
Haftakin's command, and thus formed a bodyguard 
which was independent of the Berbers, on whom he 
and his predecessors had hitherto relied. Haftakin 
enjoyed the Khalif's favour until his death in 372. 
Al-'Aziz suspected the wazir Ibn Killis of having 
caused him to be poisoned, as it was said that Haftakin 
had behaved scornfully towards him, and cast the wazir 
into prison, but after a short confinement the wazir 
was set at liberty as the Khalif found that he could not 
dispense with his services. 

Ibn Killis served as wazir in all for fifteen years (d. 
368), and it was largely due to him that the country 
enjoyed internal peace and that the public revenue was 
largely increased. For the next two years the wazir 
was the Christian 'Isa b. Nestorius, who was supported 
by harim influence. In fact the only efficient adminis- 
trators were to be found amongst the non-Muslims and 
renegades : the Turks and Berbers were all right as 
fighting men, but could never learn to act efficiently as 
civil servants- But these appointments were not 
popular, and evidences of resentment appear from time 
to time. When, towards the end of the reign, \ prepar- 
ations were being made against the Greeks, and a fleet 
of 600 (ships lay ready at Maqs to support the army in 
an expedition to Syria, eleven of these ships were set 
on fire, and popular feeling ascribed this disaster to the 
Greek inhabitants living in the neighbourhood, with 
the result that there was a riot in which many Greeks 


were murdered and their houses pillaged. It is not 
fair, however, to represent this as an anti-Christian 
movement, although no doubt most of those who 
suffered were Christians. The riot was soon put down, 
for al-'Aziz brought out his bodyguard of Turks and 
Berbers, and within six months the energy of Ibn 
Nestonus produced six new vessels of the newest type, 

Al-'Aziz shared the besetting weakness of all the 
Fatimids in his uncontrolled love of ostentatious dis- 
play. In his case this not only took the form of mag- 
nificent dresses and lavish generosity, but he showed a 
marked passion for rarities of every sort. At his table 
there were the most curious and foreign dainties, 
strange animals were imported to grace his public pro- 
cessions, and robes of costly and hitherto unknown 
materials were procured from' the most distant lands. 
At the same time al-'Aziz was an expert in precious 
stones and articles of vertu, and formed a collection of 
such things in his palace. On the other hand he was a 
strict reformer in matters of finance, putting down the 
taking of bribes and presents with severity, and intro- 
ducing the custom of paying every official and house- 
hold servant a fixed salary. 

Syria still remained subject to Fatimid rule, but was 
held only by force of arms. In 368 al-'Aziz judged it 
expedient to visit the country where hostile movements 
were taking place on the part both of the Turks and of 
the Greeks. At tEe beginning of the journey, however, 
he was taken ill at Bilbays. For some time he lay in a 
dubious state, then rallied, and then became worse 
again. On Sunday, the 23rd of Ramadan, he rode to 
the bath, and thence to the lodgings of Barjawan his 
treasurer with whom he stayed, but next morning was 
very seriously worse. The complaint was stone with 
pains in the bowels. On the following Tuesday he felt 
that his end was near and sent for the Qadi Muham'mad 
b. an-Numan, and the general Abu Muhammad al- 
Hasan Ibn 'Ammar, to whom he commended the care 
of his son, then only eleven years old. After this he 
sent for his son, al-Hakim, and of that interview al- 
Musabbihi said : " In a conversation I had with 
al-Hakim, we happened to speak of the death of al- 
'Aziz, on which he said to me : ' O Mukhtar, my father 
sent for me before he breathed his last, and I found 


him with nothing on his body but rags and bandages.' 
1 kissed him, and he pressed me to his bosom, ex- 
claiming : How I grieve for thee, beloved of my 
heart/ and tears flowed from his eyes. He then said : 
* Go, my master, and play, for I am very well/ I 
obeyed and began to amuse myself with sports such) as 
are "usual with boys, and soon after God took him to 
himself. Barjawan then hastened to me, and seeing 
me on the top of a sycamore tree, exclaimed : * Come 
down, my boy; may God protect you and us all.' 
When I descended he placed on my head the turban 
adorned with jewels, kissed the ground before me, and 
said : ' Hail to the Commander of the faithful, with 
the mercy of God and his blessing.' He then led me 
out in that attire and showed me to all the people, who 
kissed the ground before me and saluted me with the 
title of Khalif " (Ibn Khali, iii. 529). 

Al-MusaJbbihi says that after this interview with his 
son he became worse. For some time he remained in 
his bath, and then as he left it, suddenly expired. The 
historian of Kairawan says that the physician pre- 
scribed a potion which was wrongly made up and that 
this was the cause of his death. 


(A.H, 386-411 =A.D. 996-1021) 

AL-MANSUR Abu-* AH al-Hakim bi-amri-llah (" . , . 
ruling by God's command "), commonly known as Al- 
Hakim, was only eleven years old when he was saluted 
as Khahf at Bilbays on Tuesday, the 23rd of Ramadan 
386 (October, 996 A.D.). Next day he proceeded to 
Cairo with all the court. Before him went his father's 
body in a litter borne on a camel, the two feet pro* 
truding. The young prince was clothed in a woollen 
shirt split up the front and adorned with buttons and 
button holes, and on his head was the jewelled turban 
which served as the official diadem; in his hand he 
bore a lance and a sword depended from his neck 
(Maqrizi ii. 285). He reached Cairo and entered the 
palace a little time before the hour of evening prayer, 
and the following night was occupied with the funeral 
of the deceased Khalif . Ibn an-Numan washed his late 
master's body, which was then buned in a chamber of 
the palace beside the tomb of his predecessor, al-Mo'izz 
(Maqrizi loc. cit. r Ibn Khallikan loc, cit.}. 

On Thursday morning the whole court attended early 
at the palate. A golden throne covered with cushions 
of doth of gold was placed in the great portico which 
al-'Aziz had constructed in 369, Al-Hakim started out 
from the palace on horseback wearing the jewelled 
turban. At his approach all the courtiers kissed the 
earth, and then walked at his side or before and behind 
until he reached the portico, where he dismounted and 
took his seat on the throne, the courtiers taking their 
places according to rank, and each in turn did homage* 
Barjawan, the white eunuch whom al-'Aaz had ap- 
pointed to act as Utfad or " tutor," administered the 
oath, and the young Khalif was proclaimed with the 
title * ' ' "' 


There is no doubt that al-'Aziz, in appointing Bar- 
jawan as tutor intended him to act as regent until the 
young prince was old enough to assume the power 
himself, although Ibn 'Ammar and the Qadi Muham- 
mad b. Nu'man were associated with him as guardians. 
But at this point Ibn 'Ammar, the acknowledged leader 
of the -Katama party in Cairo, seized the office of 
M 'asita or chief minister, to which was united the office 
of sifaia or secretary of state, ejecting Isa b. Nestoriup, 
and assumed the title of Amin ad-Dawla or "the one 
trusted in the empire." This was the first time that 
the term " empire " was employed in the Fatimid state 
and, as De Sacy points out (Drwss i. cclxxxv.), its use 
shows the appearance of a new tendency. So far the 
Fatimids had been the leaders of a sect of which the 
Imam was supreme pontiff : circum'stances had enabled 
the sect to establish a state, first in Ifrikiya, then in 
Egypt, but it retained, at least in theory, a quasi- 
religious character, and its professed duty was to main- 
lain the divine right of the Mahdi and his descendants. 
It seems, however, that by this time there were some 
who had out-grown this sectarian point of view and 
desired the Fatimid state to pose frankly as a secular 
power. The Berber tribe of Katama appears to have 
been the centre of this change of view ; they considered 
no doubt that they had been the conquerors of Ifrikiya 
and of Egypt, and by their conquest had established 
a Berber monarchy : why should the fruits of this con- 
quest be laid at the feet of an Arab dynasty whose 
supernatural claims they no longer believed? the 
Fatimid Khalifs had given no evidence of miraculous 
powers, but were evidently ordinary human beings 
whose kingdom had been secured by the ready credulity 
of their forefathers. Ibn 'Ammar comes forward as the 
leader of what we may term the secular party, and his 
programme seems lo have been to dispense with the 
religious claims of the Fatimids, and to treat Egypt 
and its subject provinces simply as a dawla or temporal 
kingdom. No doubt these views had been gathering 
force for some time past, and certainly al-'Aziz had 
been more prominent as tihe secular "ruler and had 
allowed the sectarian propaganda to drop into the 
background, but his death and the accession of a child 
Khalif offered exceptional opportunities for modifying 


the policy of the state. De Sacy suggests that Ibn 
'Ammar's party was disposed to get rid of the young 
sovereign and to establish a purely Berber government, 
a suggestion which has every appearance of probability. 
With the disappearance of the divinely appointed 
Mahdi and the end of the Fatimid line the country 
would be set free from the peculiar religious views of 
the Isma'iliya, which were an actual barrier to the pro- 
gress of the state and alienated from it the bulk of the 
subject population. It seems a very probable picture 
of the tendencies prevailing at the moment and rests 
upon rather more than simple conjecture, though it 
must be admitted that none of the native historians 
attach this deep significance to the introduction of the 
term dawla. 

It is not necessary to suppose that Barjawan was a 
devout supporter of Isma'ihan views, but he certainly 
was the decided opponent of Ibn 'Ammar who had 
curtailed his power and Ihrust him into the back- 
ground, leaving him to be no more than the private 
tutor of the young prince. By force of circumstances 
he was compelled to become the champion of the young 
Khalif, so that this first period of al-Hakim's reign 
centres in Barjawan's intrigues to get rid of Ibn 

Very early in al-Hakin's reign these came to Egypt 
as a refugee the eunuch Shakar, who had been a 
servant of the Buwayhid prince Adhad ad-Dawla, but 
who had been taken prisoner by the rival prince Sharif 
ad-Dawla, from whom he had escaped. lie was a 
friend of Manjutakin, the governor of Syria, and 
Barjawan, having enlisted his support, used him as the 
medium of sending an appeal to Manjutakin to deliver 
(him and the KhaJif from the bondage in which they 
were kept by Ibn 'Ammar. Manjutakin, who was 
naturally inclined to be a partisan of the Turks and 
the Turkish mercenaries whom al-'Aziz had introduced 
into Egypt as a counterpoise against the influence of 
the Katama and other Berber tribes, readily espoused 
Barjawan's faction and essembled troops preparatory to 
an advance upon Egypt. As soon as Ibn 'AmmTar 
heard of this ne treated it as a revolt, and sent out an 
army under the command of Sulayman b. Ja'far b. 
Fallah, a Berber of the Katama tribe and one of his 


supporters to check the revolted Manjutakin. Thus 
the palace intrigue between Ibn 'Ammar and Barjawan 
was fought out by their respective supporters in Syria. 

Sulayman met Manjutakin either at Ascalon or 
Ramla, and there he inflicted a defeat upon the Turks 
in which Manjutakin himself was taken prisoner and 
sent captive to Egypt. He was well received by Ibn 
'Ammar, who wanted to see Berbers and Turks united 
in resistance to the established Khalifate, and perceived 
very clearly that his plans could not be successful 
unless he enlisted the sympathy of the Turkish faction 
which was very strong in Cairo. 

After his victory over Manjutakin Sulayman was 
made governor of Syria and proceeded to Tiberias, 
sending his brother ' *Ali to act as his deputy in 
Damascus. But the citizens of Damascus, always 
turbulent and independent, refused to accept 'Ali as 
governor or to allow him 1 to enter the city until they 
received a threatening letter from Sulayman which 
thoroughly frightened them and put an "end to tifieir 
opposition. 'AH entered Damascus in no pleasant 
mood, and made his irritation felt by turning his 
soldiers loose, so that many of the citizens were slain 
and some parts of the city burned, after which he with- 
drew and pitched camp outside. Not long afterwards 
Sulayman himself arrived and received the apologies 
and protestations of loyalty of the citizens and was 
pleased to express his pardon. It was his aim at this 
time to continue the policy of al-'Aziz and to hold the 
sea coast as a check upon the Greeks, and thus had no 
desire to be embroiled with a city in his rear which 
he left to be dealt with at a more convenient time. The 
Syrian Tripoli was the most important coast town held 
by the Muslims, and this he now handed over to his 
brother 'Ali, dismissing the governor Jaysh, although 
he was a fellow Berber and a tribesman of the Katama, 
with the result that Jaysh went back to Egypt with a 
grievance and joined himself to Barjawan's faction. 

Barjawan's intrigues had now so far succeeded that 
he had a strong following, and as most of Ibn 'Ammar's 
troops were absent in Syria it seemed a favourable 
moment to strike his rival. For some time there were 
street riots between Berbers and Turks, indeed, this 
seems to have been more or less the normal State of 


Cairo at the time, for in spite of the good treatment 
accorded to Manjutakin, the Turkish mercenaries were 
deeply jealous of the favour shown by Ibn 'Ammar to 
his fellow Berbers. When Barjawan felt that the time 
was ripe ihe secretly distributed largess amongst the 
Turks, and they made an open attack upon Ibn 'Ammar 
which compelled him to conceal himself and to retire 
from public life. 

At Ibn ' Ammar 's downfall, for this it actually was, 
Barjawan assumed the offices of Wasita and Sifara, 
thus becoming practically regent of the state, on 28 
Ramadan 387, after Ibn 'Ammar had held office for a 
little less than eleven months. He treated the fallen 
minister as a kind of usurper who had tried to make the 
Kfaalif a prisoner and celebrated his own accession, or 
rather restoration to office for he had certainly acted 
as chief minister for the first few days of al-Hakim*s 
reign as a vindication of the Khalif's rights. He 
brought forth al-Hakim in public, had him again pro- 
claimed Khalif, and displayed him as sovereign. 

But it was in Syria that the two factions were really 
fighting out their quarrel, and Barjawan's first act of 
policy was to write to the citizens of Damascus urging 
them to resist Sulayman, and assuring them of the 
support of the home government as the Katama faction 
had now fallen from power. Thus encouraged the 
people of Damascus pillaged Sulayman's goods, slew 
many of his men at arms, and expelled him from the 

Neither faction at Cairo was strong enough to 
proceed to extremities, and Barjawan had reason to 
dread the return of the Berber troops from Syria. For 
a while Ibn 'Ammar was treated as a prisoner of state 
and confined to his house, but all his fiefs and sources 
of income were secured to him and, after an interval, 
he was allowed to go about as he pleased and to present 
himself at court. 

In Syria a period of disorder followed the fall of Sulay- 
rnan, and the Bedwin phylarch Mufarraj b. Daghtal b. 
Jarrah broke out in revolt, established his headquartert 
at Ramla, and made forays in the Bedwin fashion 
through the surrounding country. At the same time 
Tyre revolted under the leadership of a peasant named 
Olafca, and the Greeks, led by the Emperor Ducas, laid 


seige to Apamea. It seemed, therefore, that Barjawan's 
success involved the practical loss of control over the 
Asiatic provinces. But though Barjawan had en- 
couraged the turbulence of the Damascenes for his own 
purpose, and had thus got rid of Ibn 'Ammar's chief 
supporter Sulayman, he had no intention to lose hold 
of Syria permanently, and sent up Jaysh b. Samsama 
as governor : probably this appointment was Jaysh 's 
stipulated fee for assisting Barjawan. At the head of a 
large force Jaysh proceeded to Ramla where he found 
Sulayman whom he made prisoner and sent to Egypt. 
He then sent a detachment under Husayn b. * Abdullah 
against Tyre, and proceeded himself against Mufarraj. 

At Husayn 's approach Olaka appealed for help to 
the Greek Emperor, and in response a fleet of Greek 
ships was sent to his assistance. These ships, how- 
ever, were met off Tyre by an Egyptian fleet and 
defeated* The Tyrians, now thoroughly discouraged, 
made an unconditional surrender and Husayn entered 
their city, pillaged it, and sent Olaka a prisoner to 
Egypt where he was flayed and crucified. 

Meanwhile Jaysh had been advancing against 
Mufarraj but, as 'he approached with so large an army, 
Mufarraj became frightened and fled. Jaysh did not 
pursue him but passed on to Damascus where the 
inhabitants received him with some anxiety, although 
in their recent revolt against Sulayman they had been 
acting with the approval and encouragement of Bar- 
jawan's faction, and so in alliance with Jaysh. They 
remembered, however, that Jaysh was a Berber of the 
Katama, and that tribal prejudices were stronger than 
any temporary association in palace factions. As soon 
as Jaysh entered the city he made a reassuring speech 
to the people, and the citizens were fully convinced that 
he intended only friendly relations. At the moment he 
was most anxious to be free from any minor troubles 
with the cities of Syria in order tihat he might deal 
effectually with the Greek attempts upon the country 
which, for some years past, had been growing more 
serious. He proceeded therefore to Apamea, and 
before long joined issue with the Greek forces under 
Ducas, and received at their hands a severe defeat. 
Whilst the Muslims were in full flight and the Greeks 
were occupied in plundering their baggage, a young 


Kurd named Ahmad ibn 'Abdu-1-Haqq, with a small 
band of followers of the tribe of Bashara advanced to 
where the Emperor stood surrounded by officers 
amongst whom was his son. The Emperor paid no 
attention to the Kurd, supposing him to be one of the 
defeated enemy coming to make formal surrender, but 
as Ahmad drew near he fell upon the Emperor with his 
sword and killed him instantly. At this the Greeks 
were thrown into confusion, the Muslims rallied, and 
the conflict closed with a victory for the Muslims. 

Jaysh, thus unexpectedly the victor, proceeded to 
Antioch, but did not think it worth while to spend time 
in a seige without which it would have been impossible 
to enter the city, and so taking what booty and 
prisoners he could get in the neighbourhood, he went 
back to Damascus. He was now free to give vent to 
his long standing grudge against that city. Refusing 
all invitations to enter within its walls he pitched camp 
outside, but continued his friendly attitude towards the 
citizens, and frequently inviting the leaders of the local 
bands, whether they should be called militia or 
brigands is dubious, entertained them in his tent. 
On these occasions the guests feasted with Jaysh and 
then, instead of having water brought round to wash 
their hands, they used to be conducted to a separate 
room and washed there. This went on for some time, 
and then one day the door of the room where they had 
retired was closed, the guests were trapped and led out 
one by one to execution* As soon as the citizens heard 
of this they were thrown into great alarm. Next day 
Jaysh entered the city, executed as many leaders of the 
local bands as he could find, seized many of the pro- 
minent citizens and sent them prisoners to Egypt, and 
then pillaged their houses. 

Thus Syria was brought to a condition of compara- 
tive order. Meanwhile Barjawan had sent forces to 
reduce Barqa and the African Tripoli, and thus the 
whole Fatimid Empire was brought to subjection. The 
Katami Fahl b. Isma'il was appointed governor of 
Tyre, the eunudh Yanas was put in charge of Barqa, 
and the eunuch Maysur was given the African Tripoli, 
whilst the frontier posts of Gaza and Asqalon were 
entrusted to the eunuch Yaman. But more ithportant 
than any of these arrangements was Barjawan's great 



achievement in sending an embassy to the Greek 
Emperor and concluding with him a truce for five 

Although Barjawan remained for nearly three years 
regent of Egypt, Syria, North Africa, and the Hijaz, 
his position was far from secure. His danger came 
from an unexpected quarter; not from the Katama 
faction and Ibn 'Ammar, but from the young Khalif 
who was beginning to resent Barjawan's conduct as 
regent. According to one account the feeling was 
personal and largely due to Barjawan's manner 
towards his ward, whom he seems lo have treated with 
contempt and active dislike, applying to him the 
nick-name of " lizard." For a long time al-Hakim 
nourished his resentment in secret and then, four days 
before the end of Rabi' II., in the year 390, he sent 
to him the message, " The Httle lizard has become a 
great dragon and wants you." Much alarmed, Bar- 
jawan presented himself before the Khalif, and was 
slain by Abu I-Fadl Raydan, the bearer of the royal 
parasol, who stabbed him in the belly with a knife 
(cf. Ibn Khalhkan, i. 53). Whatever measure of truth 
there is in this account it probably hits off some salient 
features in the way that a caricature sometimes gives a 
truer portrait than a photograph. Undoubtedly al- 
Hakim was quick to feel resentment, many proofs of 
this appear in his later life ; and undoubtedly there was 
already something uncanny in his actions and manners, 
the symptoms in all probability of incipient insanity; 
and no doubt interested persons were busy if fanning 
the smouldering embers of resentment. Other ac- 
counts, reported by Nowairi and Bar Hebraeus, the 
former always a most weighty authority for this period, 
represent al-Hakim as chafing at Barjawan's control, 
at his confinement to the precincts of tine palace and at 
the prohibition against his riding abroad, the declared 
reason being the fear of assassination at the hands of 
the Katama partisans, which may have been not 
without good ground. According to these two his- 
torians the whole plot was due to the parasol bearer 
Raydan, who had become the Khahf's confidant, 
Barjawan being occupied with matters of state and 
wasting no time with the youth who was the titular 
sovereign and who, it may be supposed, was ai moody 


and unpleasing personage, and thus the parasol bearer 
was able to persuade his master that Barjawan was 
trying to emulate Kafur, and intended to make the 
Khalif a merely ornamental figure kept in the palace, 
and brought out from time to time to grace some state 
function. It lent colour to this, that Barjawan's mode 
of life was strangely reminiscent of Kafur; after he 
had secured the command of the government he had 
gradually relaxed his attention to public business, until 
at last his life was spent entirely in pleasure, but he 
never attained the literary interests of the former negro 

Nowairi tells us that al-Hakim, influenced by the 
suggestions of Raydan, had consulted Husayn, the 
son of the great general Jawhar, and that he frankly 
advised him to get rid of Barjawan. Although the 
minister no longer troubled to supervise the Khalif's 
education, it was his custom to lake him from time 
to time for a walk in the gardens which had been laid 
out by Kafur, the gardens of the Pearl Palace, as they 
were "called. It was decided that some such occasion 
should be used to dispose of Barjawan, and so one day 
as he was thus walking with aMlakim Raydan sud- 
denly attacked him and drove ri lance into his back, 
then al-Hakim 's servants crowding round cut off his 

Barjawan's assassination was followed by a riot. 
Tfce people of Cairo were not insensible of the general 
security and peace which his rule had secured, and 
feared a return of disorder. But Nowairi tells us that 
the report went abroad that Ibn e Amniar had made an 
attempt on the Khalifs life. This is likely enough, 
for Barjawan had constantly kept alive the idea that 
the Khalif lived in perpetual danger of Katama 
attacks. Other accounts attribute the riot to Uarjawan's 
popularity and to resentment at his murder and fear 
of resulting relaxation of the strong hand which had 
guided the country into wayvS of peace and prosperity. 
This riot was al-Hakirn's first lesson of the need of 
tact in dealing with his subjects. He was never 
lacking in personal courage, and on this occasion he 
went out to the people and declared, " I have been 
informed of an intrigue which Barjawan made against 
me, and for that I caused him to be executed. I be? 


you to take my part and not to be hard on', me, for I 
am yet a child,' 1 and he burst into tears. The 
" intrigue " thus referred to was no doubt the con- 
spiracy which Raydan maintained that Barjawan had 
formed to treat the Khalif in the same way as Kafur 
had treated the later Ikhshid princes. 

Although al-Hakim was now in the fifth year of his 
reign he had as yet taken no part in the government, 
which was of course the result of his tender years. 
It is obvious, however, that he had come under the 
influence of Barjawan and then of Rayad and Husayn, 
who had all endeavoured to develop his self-assertion 
for their own ends. As yet his personal character was 
quite unknown, and the expansion of his personality 
lies within the period following Barjawan's assassin- 

Thus the death of Barjawan marks the beginning of 
the second period of al-Hakim *s reign, during which 
he began to assert himself and to display his own 
character, although in this we see very distinct gradu- 
ations which tend to produce marked differences of 
policy. The first phase covers the years 390-395, in 
which he shows marked peculiarities, and we note an 
increasing fanaticism in upholding Shi'ite views, but 
for the most part he is inclined to pleasure, and seems 
to have been popular. In 395-396 there comes a 
puritan reaction, associated with a time of distress and 
famine in Egypt, which becomes more pronounced as 
he has to meet revolt at home and hostile invasion from 
the west. 

After Barjawan *s death al-Hakim chose Husayn, the 
son of Jawhar, as his chief minister, tlhe same adviser 
whom he had consulted about Barjawan, and who had 
advised his murder. Husayn received the title of 
Qa'id alQuwwad, " general of generals," or Com* 
mander-in-Chief , and a Christian named Fahd acted as 
his lieutenant. Fahl b. Tamim was made governor of 
Damascus but, as he died shortly afterwards, he was 
replaced by 'AH b. Fallah. An order was made very 
early in this period forbidding any person to address 
the Khalif as " our lord " or "our master,'* and re- 
quiring them to confine themselves to the simpler title 
" Commander of the Faithful," and this order was 
enforced with the penalty of death. 


Now al-Hakim, feeling himself free from restraint, 
began to show evidences of peculiarities which caused 
many of his day and many since to regard him as a 
person of disordered intellect. His first peculiarity was 
a preference for night over day. He began to hold 
meetings of the (l council " by night, whether of the 
council of state or the religious assembly of the 
Isma'ilian sect does not seem quite clear, he rode abroad 
in the city by night, and by his orders the streets were 
brigihtly illuminated, the shops opened, and business 
and pleasure followed by artificial light. The citizens 
vied with one another in hanging out lights and illu- 
minating their houses to win the Khalif 's approval. 
This continued for about five years, during which al- 
Hakim seemed disposed to encourage every kind of 
pleasure, and every night saw both Cairo and the old 
city of Fustat refulgent with artificial illumination. In 
his conduct generally the Khalif was tolerant, as his 

Jredecessors had been, towards the Christians and 
ews as well as towards the Muslims who did not 
embrace the peculiar tenets of the Shi 'a sect. His 
mother was a Christian. Towards his officials his con- 
duct was generous, and he seems to have been dis- 
tinctly popular. Thus, when Jaysh died in 390 his son 
went to Cairo with a paper on which his father had 
written his will and a detailed statement of all his 
property : all this, he declared, belonged to the Khalif 
his master; his children had no rights. The property 
thus vaJued was estimated at 200,000 pieces of gold. 
The son brought all this before the Khalif, but al- 
Hakim said, " I have read your father's will and the 
statement of the money and goods of which he has 
disposed by his will ; take it, and enjoy it in tranquility 
and for your happiness." Indeed, all through his 
career the chief charge made against him was his 
reckless generosity, which often reduced the govern- 
ment to serious inconvenience : it was, indeed, a species 
of megalomania. 

No doubt the nocturnal festivities of Cairo, well 
suited to the pleasure loving character of the Egyptians, 
led to many abuses, and so in 391 a strict order was 
issued forbidding women to go out of doors by night, 
and a little later this was followed by a general order 
prohibiting the opening of the shops by night (Maq, ii. 


286). Al-Hakim himself continued his nocturnal tastes 
and nightly wanderings in the city until 393, when he 
entirely ceased riding about by night and forbade any 
person to be out after sunset. 

In 393 al-Hakim began to show other curious 
developments in his conduct, the external signs, it 
would appear, of a growing disorder of the mind. We 
dp not know what grounds Barjawan had for calling 
him a lizard ; very possibly there was something furtive 
and uncanny in him even in his boyhood. In the 
early years following the death of Barjawan he seems 
to have been genial and generous, but all this changed 
in 393a when his character began to show a rigorous 
puritanism and signs of religious fanaticism, which 
indeed need be no sign of a disordered intellect, but 
which, suddenly developed, might very well accompany 
such a thing. It was in this year also that he began to 
be active as a mosque builder and as a generous bene- 
factor of existing mosques, though this again is no 
evidence of disordered mentality. At the same time 
he became fanatical in his support of the peculiar 
tenets of the Shi'ite sect to which he belonged, and 
began to show great severities towards Christians and 
Jews, although in this last item he seems to have acted 
under the pressure of public opinion, which was very 
decidedly irritated by the favouritism which the 
Fatimids had so far shown to non-Muslims. But side 
by side with this sudden puritanism and fanaticism 
appeared a vein of capricious cruelty which has a very 
sinister bearing. Such cruelty begins to be prominent 
in 393 when many persons were put to death, some on 
religious grounds, others it would appear merely by a 
passing caprice of the Khalif. Amongst these was the 
Ustad Raydan, the royal parasol bearer who had 
counselled the murder of Barjawan. 

In 394 the Chief Qadi Husayn b. Nu'man was 
deprived of his office and replaced bv 'Abdu l-'Aziz b, 
Muhammad b. Numan, who had been acting as 
Inspector of Complaints. In every Muslim country 
the Qadi who administers the sacred law is a person of 
very great importance, but under the Fatimids the 
Chief Qadi very often also held the office of Chief Da'i 
or Supreme Missionary, as was the case with Husayn. 
If the two offices were held by different persons the 


Chief Da'i ranked next after the Chief Qadi, and wore 
a similar official costume. It was the duty of the Chief 
Da'i, who had under him twelve assistants as well as 
subordinate da'is in the different provinces, to receive 
the conversions of those who joined the Isma'ilian 
fraternity, and to deliver regular courses of instruction 
to those who were members, according to their grades 
in the society, His official income was derived from a 
fee of three and a half pieces of silver from each mem- 
ber. In earlier times, as we have seen,* the da'is were 
chosen from the most earnest proselytes, but at this 
period the office of Chief Da c i was hereditary in the 
family of the B. 'Abdu 1-Kawi, and in them we may 
be disposed, perhaps, to recognise " the power behind 
the throne." Still it does not seem that this hereditary 
right was treated as essential for the office, but only 
that it was usually regarded as giving a normal 

The appointment of a new Chief Da'i brings us to 
the period of al-Hakim's It was a time of 
great dissatisfaction. Even a people so habitually 
patient as the Egyptians were beginning to feel irrit- 
ation at the expense involved in the nightly illu- 
minations so long continued* A more serious cause 
of discontent was that which usually lies behind every 
disaffection in Egypt, a failure of the inundation of the 
Nile. For three rears in succession the Nile flood had 
been exceptionally low, and so food was scarce and 

In 395, when a great number of people were executed, 
the ex-Qadi Plusayn b. Nu'man was put to death and 
his body burned. We note elsewhere the peculiar pro- 
Isma'ilian legislation of 394 against various vegetables 
which were traditionally associated with persons who 
appeared in history as hostile to the house of 'AH (cf. 
p. 141 below). At the same time a prohibition was 
issued against the slaying of oxen, other than those 
injured or diseased, save at the Feast of Sacrifice (Maq. 
ii, 286, Ibn Khallik. iii. 450), a prohibition perhaps 
connected with the scarcity due to the bad Miles. 

We have already seen that strict laws against going 
out at night were made as the result, no doubt, of 
abuses arising from the nightly illuminations and 
merry-making* Now, in 395, more stringent regul- 


ations were made. It was enacted that no women were 
to appear in the street unveiled, and that no persons 
were to use the baths without wearing wrappers. In 
Jumada II. of this year, a general prohibition was 
issued against any persons going out of doors after 
sunset, so that the streets were deserted by night. In 
accordance with another Jaw all vessels containing 
wine were seized, the vessels broken, and the wine 
poured out (Maq. li. 286). Another law dealt with the 
dogs which roam about most eastern cities and who, 
in Muslim lands are savage because they lack human 
intercourse, for the religion of Islam has placed the dog 
and the pig apart as animals who are in all circum- 
stances unclean, so that no one who has touched either 
of these is able to pray or eat without formal ablution, 
Now al-Hakim commenced a war of extermination 
against dogs, with the result that in Cairo many were 
slain and very few could be seen in the streets. Severus 
says that this rule was made because al-Hakim's ass 
had taken fright at a dog barking at it : in strict 
accuracy the Khalif had not at this lime adopted the 
custom of riding an ass, but this is a minor detail. 

Stricter rules also were made excluding ordinary 
civilians from Kafaira, from which it appears that the 
seclusion of the guarded city had been somewhat 
relaxed. In future no one was to be allowed to ride 
into it, but must dismount and proceed on foot, and 
all those who let out asses for hire were to be excluded 
from 1 its precincts, whilst no one was to be allowed to 
pass in front of the royal palace even on foot. 

We must now turn to consider conditions in Syria, 
for it is always impossible to understand Egyptian 
history unless the course of events in Syria is kept in 
view. At the time of Barjawan's death Syria was 
under the governorship of Jaysh, but when he died in 
390 \t became necessary for al-Hakim to nominate a 
successor for this important pojrt. He chose Fahl of 
the B. Tamim, but Fahl died after only a few months. 
The Khalif then appointed 'All b. Fallah of the 
Katama. In 392 the Ham'danid prince of Aleppo, 
Sa'id ad-Dawla, and his wife, were poisoned by his 
father-in-law Lu'lu', who desired to obtain the throne 
for himself* He did not seize the supreme power im- 
mediately, but proclaimed Sa'id's two sons 'Ali and 


Sharif as joint rulers, retaining the real control in his 
own hands. This continued for two years, then in 394 
he sent them together, with the whole of the harim 1 of 
the Hamdanids to Cairo, and assumed to himself the 
office and title of Emir in conjunction with his son 
Mansur, and these two ruled as Emirs under the pro- 
tection of the Fatimid Khalif until Lu'lu"s death in 399. 
Then Mansur became sole ruler under the title of 
Murtada l-Dawla which was conferred on him by al- 
Hakim, and 'he had the name of the Fatimid Khalif 
inserted in the Friday prayer and inscribed on the 
coinage so that by 399 Aleppo was fully admitted as a 
part of the Fatimid empire, having been a protected 
district for the previous five years, before which it had 
for forty years been included in the Byzantine Empire. 

The first evidence of al-Hakim's strong religious 
interest appears in his diligence as a builder of mosques, 
and in the completion or adorement of (hose already 

A mosque near the Bab al-Futu'h, the second con- 
gregational mosque of Kahira, had been commenced 
by al-'Aziz and the Wazir Ibn Killis in 380, and was 
sufficiently advanced to allow the Friday prayers to be 
held there in 381. In 394 al-Hakim added the minarets 
and the decorations so that Maqrizi describes him as 
reconstructing the building. The work was not com- 
pleted until 404. At first known as the "New Mosque" 
or as al-Anwar "the brilliant," it afterwards generally 
bore tihe name of Hakim's Mosque. Desecrated by 
the Crusaders, severely injured by an earthquake in 
703, it was in a semi-ruinous condition by fire and 
neglect with its roof falling to pieces when Maqrizi 
wrote his description of it about A.H. 823 (=A.D, 1420. 
Cf. Maqrizi ii. 277, sqq.), After even worse decay in 
later days it was temporarily converted in recent times 
to a museum of Arabic art, the collection being removed 
to its present quarters in 1903. The mosque is now 
abandoned and in ruins. Its general plan follows that 
of the mosque of Ibn Tulun, a square courtyard sur- 
rounded with arcades, the centre open to the sky. A. 
considerable part of the east liwan remains, with a few 
fragments of the north Ivwan, of the other two sides 
only portions of the exterior walls survive. Two 


towers can be seen standing at the ends of the west wall, 
but the open-work minarets which crown these towers 
are additions made some three centuries later and alien 
to the style prevailing in the time of the Fatimids. 

In the year 393 al-Hakim also began to rebuild the 
mosque in the district of Rashida to the south of Katai* 
near the Mukattam hills, on a ground where a Christian 
church had once stood. The mosque had been built of 
brick ; this al-Hakim destroyed and re-constructed on a 
larger scale and of more imposing appearance. It was 
known as the mosque of Rashida from its position, the 
ground being so called after a person of that name who 
had once be<5n its owner. This mosque was commenced 
in Rabi' I. 393, and the position of the mihrab was 
carefully adjusted by the astronomer 'Ah b. Yunus. 
Two years later the Khalif made this mosque a present 
of carpets, curtains, and lamps. 

Besides this building al-Hakim made many gifts to 
various mosques, especially to those he purchased for 
the special purposes of the Shi'ite sect, presenting them 
with copies of the Qur'an, silver lamps, curtains, 
Samanide mats, etc. 

The earlier Fatimids in North Africa present rather 
a brutal appearance and, so far as we can see, their 
one ideal was the establishment of political power. But 
that was not the original character of the movement 
which had distinct intellectual tendencies, and to this 
earlier type al-Mo'izz had reverted. Since the dynasty 
had been established in Egypt the humane side had 
been more prominently in evidence, and especially in 
the encouragement of medicine and natural science. 
The Khalif al-Mo'izz employed the Jewish physician 
Musa b, al-G'hazzan and his two sons Ishaq and 
Isma'il : these were not only eminent practitioners but 
Musa was distinguished as a writer on the pharmacopia, 
and all three were regarded as leading authorities on 
medicine. Another distinguished physician was the 
Christian Eutychius or Sa'id b. Batriq, patriarch of the 
Malkite church of Alexandria who died in 328 (A.D, 
943), the author of a history of which an edition in 
Arabic and Latin was published at Oxford in 1654, 

Al-Hakim himself was anxious to encourage scholar- 
ship in accordance with the traditions of the sect of 
-which he was the head. The mosque of al-'Azhar had 


been especially devoted to the learned by his father, 
and now in Jumada II. 395 he founded an academy on 
the lines of similar institutions already existing at 
Baghdad and elsewhere. This new foundation was 
named the Dar al~Hikma or " house of wisdom." To 
it were attached a number of professors, both of the 
traditional sciences and Qur'an and canon law, and 
also of the natural sciences. A library was connected 
with it and was filled with books transferred from the 
royal palace near by. All who came to it were supplied 
with ink, pens, paper, and rests for books. 

It seems probable that the intellectual efforts of the 
Fatimids should be connected with the Ikhwanu, s-Safa, 
" the brotherhood of purity " and with the Assassins. 
The former began as a kind of masonic society at Basra 
soon after the capture of Baghdad by the Buwayhids 
in 334. Undoubtedly it had some connection with the 
sect established by 'Abdullah the son of Maymun, but 
it is not possible to specify accurately what that con- 
nection was. It may have been a more cultured off- 
shoot, just as the Qarmatians were a cruder branch ; but 
the more probable explanation is that it was a descend- 
ant of the movement which produced 'Abdullah, but 
free from the Shi'ite elements which he inherited from 
the sect founded by his father Maymun. To a large 
extent it seems that the " Brotherhood " displayed 
the true principles adopted by the Isma'ilians free 
from the Shi'ite ideas and free from the political 
opportunism which marked the development of the 
Fatimids in Africa and Egypt. To the Assassins 
we shall have occasion to return at a later stage. 
The " Brethren of purity " were disposed in four 
grades, the highest of which was composed of those 
who desired the union of their souls with the world- 
spirit, so that their final doctrine was a species 
of pantheism. They were a body of religious and 
ethical reformers, a purified and gentle vsociety, at the 
opposite pole to the fierce Qarmatians. On the literary 
side they are best known as (he producers of the fifty- 
one " Epistles of the Brethren of Purity/ 1 an encyclo- 
paedia of philosophy and science as known in the 
Arabic speaking world of the fourth century. These 
" Epistles " were edited and translated by Prof. 
Dietetic! between 1858 and 1879, and show a general 


scheme of education in grammar, theology, philo- 
sophy, and physics, the latter including mineralogy, 
chemistry, botany, and zoology. It is in no sense an 
original work, but simply an encyclopaedic compilation 
of all the material then available, 

The whole Fatimid movement took place in an 
atmosphere saturated with Hellenistic thought, and the 
revived study of the Greek material was the direct 
inspiration both of the Isma'ilian sect as organised by 
'Abdullah and of the " Brethren. 1 ' But the influence 
of these latter was checked by the strong tendency 
towards reaction in Muslim theology and thought 
generally which was gathering even m the fourth 
century in Asiatic Islam. The future of the philo- 
sophers lay in the far west : Ibn Sina (d. 428) was the 
last of the Muslim philosophers in the east, and he was 
associated with Sni'ite circles, whilst al-Farabi had 
lived under the shelter of the Shi'ite Hamdanids, and 
the " Brethren " flourished under the Buwayhids who 
also were Shi'ites. For the most part the study of 
Greek philosophy, therefore, progressed under Shi'ile 

The " House of Wisdom " continued until 513 when 
the reactionary wave of orthodoxy had reached even 
Fatimid Egypt, and in that year it was dosed as a home 
of heresy by the Wazir Afdal. Four years later a new 
academy near the great palace was founded by the 
Wazir Ma'mun, but this adhered more strictly to the 
traditional lines of Muslim study. 

In the line of philosophers strictly so-called, that is 
to say, of those who worked from the basis of Greek 
science, one is associated with al-Hakim and the Cairo 
of the Falimids, namely, Ibn al-Haytsam, known to the 
mediaeval Latin writers as Alahzen. He was born at 
Basra, in 354, and became distinguished as a student of 
the Greek philosophers. At that time the path of 
philosophy was beset with many difficulties owing to 
the orthodox reaction. 

Ibn Sina was a wanderer in many lands, and Ibn 
al-Haytsam found it more piudent to seek a refuge in 
Cairo where he made his home amongst the learned of 
the al-'Afchar m'osque. He died in 430. We have a 
long list of the works he produced, all of the type 
usually associated with the Arabic philosophers, 


manuals, commentaries, and discussions of questions 
arising from the teaching of the ancients. In his case 
these deal chiefly with mathematics, physics, the 
Aristotelian logic, and the medical works of Galen. 
The Bodleian contains a MS. ot his commentary on 
Euclid. To the mediaeval west he was best known as 
the author of a treatise on optics which was translated 
into Latin and used by Roger Bacon. Occasionally 
this optical work of " Alhazen " appears in the 
curricula of the mediaeval universities. 

Various evidences of a fanatical spirit in maintaining 
the doctrines and usages of Shi'ism begin to appear in 
al-Hakim about 393. In Syria a person was arrested 
on the charge that he denied that any special devotion 
was due to 'Ali. The offender was imprisoned by the 
authority of the Chief Qadi of Egypt who acted as pope 
over all the territories subject to Fatimid rule, and was 
examined by four jurists who did their best to persuade 
him to recognise the Imamate of 'Ah, but, as he 
remained stubborn, he was beheaded. 

In Cairo thirteen persons were arrested for having 
observed the Salat ad-Duha or " mid-morning prayer, 
one of the voluntary observances sometimes added to 
the five canonical daily prayers, but disapproved by the 
Shi'ites. The offenders were paraded through the 
Streets, beaten, and detained three days in prison. 

In the month of Rabi* II. of this same year (393) a 
man named Aswad Hakami was punished for some 
offence of which the details are unknown, but which 
probably was a public championship of the three first 
Khalifs whom the Shi'ites regarded as usurpers. He 
was paraded through the city and a herald cried before 
him : "This is tihe reward of those who are the 
partisans of Abu Bakr, and Umar," after which he was 
beheaded (As-Suyuti History, chap. I., Qadir bi-llah). 

In 395 al-Hakim re-enforced many old laws against 
Christians and Jews, and the decrees ordering the strict 
observance of these penal regulations contained m'any 
abusive expressions against Abu Bakr and Umar. A 
new decree of 395 forbade the use of malukhiya or 
"Jews 7 mallow " as food because it was traditionally 
slated to have been a favourite article of Mu'awiya the 
opponent of 'AH, Similarly the use of jirjir (girgir) or 
<c watercress " was forbidden because it had been intro- 


duced by Ayesha : and of mutawakkiiya, a herb named 
after the 'Abbasid Khalif Mutawakkil. The sale or 
making of beer (fuqqa) was severely prohibited 
because it was especially disliked by 'Ah : it was for- 
bidden to use dahlias, a species of small shell fish, for 
some reason not known : and very strict orders were 
made against the sale or use of any fish which had no 

In the same year a law was published that the noon 
prayer was to be said at the seventh hour and the after- 
noon prayer at the ninth, that is to say the modern 
way of counting 1 the correct hours was to be observed 
instead of the traditional method of observing the sun. 
In these cases tradition allowed the noon prayer to be 
said as soon as the sun is actually seen to begin its 
decline from the meridian (Bukhan : Sahih ix. n), and 
the afternoon prayer after it has declined (id. 13, I3A). 
Orthodox Islam allows the former at any time between 
noon and the hour when the .shadow of a thing is equal 
to the thing itself in length, and the latter at any time 
between the moment of equal shadow and the sunset 
(cf. id.). The Fatimid Khahf now replaced these very 
primitive methods of reckoning, which are still in force, 
by the observance of fixed houis as marked by the dial* 

In the month of Safar uf 395 al-Hakim caused 
inscriptions cursing the three first Khalif s, the 
" usurpers," and certain others such as Talha, Zubayr, 
Mu'awiya, and Amru, all regarded as enemies by 
the Shi'ites, to be written up on the doors of the 
mosques and of shops, and on the guard houses and 
in tJhe cemeteries, and compelled the people to display 
similar inscriptions in gold lettering and bright colours 
(cf. Maq. ii. 286, As-vSuyuti : al-Qa'im. Ibn Khali, iii. 
450). llhese were extremely offensive to the Sunnis or 
orthodox who formed the large majority of the people, 
indeed at the present day the attitude to be observed 
towards the first three Khalifs is the sorest point 
of difference between the Sunnis and Shi'ites, and even 
in recent years more than one Shi'ito has risked death 
for the sake of spitting on the tomb of 'llmar. At the 
same time efforts were made to induce citizens to join 
the fsrna'ilian sect, and two days were set apart every 
week for the admission of those who desired to be 
initiated. On some of these occasions the crowds were 


so large that several people were crushed to death 
(Maq. 11. 286). 

Those who were keen Shi'ites naturally were en- 
couraged by this legislation to become somewhat 
aggressive in their attitude. When the caravan of 
African, that is to say Moroccan and Tunisian, pilgrims 
on their way home from Mecca passed through tgypt 
and rested at Cairo, some of the more ardent Shi'ites 
tried to induce them to utter curves against 'Umar and 
the other early Khalifs, and the refusal of the pilgrims 
to do so led to some disturbances. 

At the beginning of the year 396 the usual Shi'ite 
feast of the Ashura commemorating the martyrdom of 
'Ah and his sons, a regular occasion for an outbreak 
of Shi'ite fanaticism at the present day, was duly cele- 
brated on the first ten days of Muharram. This time 
tlhe offensive attitude of the Shi'ites caused a good deal 
of annoyance, and one man wa& arrested for shouting : 
" Such be the recompense of those who curse l Ayesha 
and her husband." For this he was beheaded. 

In 393 al-Hakim commenced the strict observance of 
the old laws, now long obsolete, against the Christians 
and Jews. We are left in no doubt as to the reason 
why these ancient penal laws were revived and strictly 
enforced. Maqrizi tells us that it was due to the 
arrogance and wealth of those Christians and Jews who 
had been unduly favoured by the Fatimids. The 
greater part of the civil service was filled by them, and 
some Christians, such as *Isa b. Nestorius and Fahd b. 
Ibrahim, were then acting as ministers of slate. To a 
large extent we may ascribe al-Hakim's treatment of 
Christians and Jews as due to the pressure of public 
opinion, and it is rather interesting to observe how such 
opinion was brought to bear upon a mediaeval Khalif . 

One day as al-Hakim' was riding through the streets 
he was confronted by a female guy made of paper 
bearing in her outstretched hand a document which 
Hakim took, and read : " In the name of him who has 
honoured the Jews in Manasseh, and the Christians in 
'Isa b. Nestonus, and has dishonoured the Muslims in 
himself, deliver us from the evil state we are in, in 
good time " (Abu 1-Feda, Annal Mosl ii. 591)* 

Hakim's first step was to endeavour to bring pressure 
to bear upon his chief officials in order that by getting 


them to profess Islam he might remove the objection 
felt towards them- One of these was Fahd b. Ibrahim, 
a Christian who had been ra'is or lieutenant under the 
commander-in-chief Husayn b. Jawhar since 389. He, 
however, proved stubborn in his adherence to the 
Christian religion and so was beheaded and his body 
burned, an act of severity which was not justified by 
Muslim law. As soon as the execution was over Haki-m 
sent for Fahd's children, assured them of his protection, 
and forbade any one to do them harm. Fahd was 
succeeded in his office by the Muslim 'Ah b. 'Umar 
al-' Addas. Hakim then made a similar attempt to 
convert *lsa b. Nestorius and with similar result, so 
*Isa also was beheaded. Bar Ilebraeus puts this event 
in the period 386-389, but as Maqnzi mentions it just 
before his reference to the execution of Fahd it is more 
probably dated 393. 

Al-Hakim had ten of the chief Christian clerks, 
including Fahd, arrested. The first of these to be 
brought before him 1 was Abu Najah, who was a member 
of the Greek Church. Hakim urged him to become a 
Muslim, and promised him rapid promotion and im- 
mediate rewards if he would do so. Abu Najah asked 
that he might be allowed a day's delay, and this was 
granted him. He then went home and, gathering 
together his kinsmen and friends, told them what had 
taken place, and assured them that he had asked for 
this delay, not because he was in any doubt as to what 
he would do, but in order to meet them and exhort them 
to remain steadfast in their faith in the persecution which 
he fore-saw was about to fall upon the church. He 
then entertained them all to a feast and next day pre- 
sented himself before the Khalif . Al-Hakim asked him 
if he had made his choice : he replied that he had done 
so: " And what is your intention?" "It is to 
remain firm in my religion,'* Al-Hakim then tried 
promises and threats, but without result. He then had 
him stripped and scourged until he had received five 
hundred stripes, so that his flesh was torn and the blood 
flowed freely. As the torturers stopped al-Hakim 
ordered them to continue until the sufferer had received 
a thousand lashes. After three hundred more Abu 
Najah cried out that he was in thirst and, as this was 
reported to al-Hakim he ordered one of the men to give 


him a drink of water. But when the water was offered 
Abu Najah said: " Take away his water. I have no 
need of it, because Jesus Christ the true King has given 
me to drink, " and then he died. When this was 
reported to Hakim he ordered the thousand strokes to 
be completed on the dead body. 

Of the other eigiht clerks remaining after Fahd and 
Abu Najah, four remained firm and were executed, and 
four turned Muslim. Of these latter one died during 
the night after making his profession of faith, the other 
three remained conforming Muslims until the penal 
laws were relaxed in the latter part of Hakim's reign 
when they returned to tine Christian Church, the Khalif 
protecting them from the legal penalties to which this 
exposed them. 

Towards the end of 394 Hakim began collecting a 
large store of wood on Mokattam, and this was com- 
pleted in Rabi* I. 395. A rumour went abroad that this 
was intended to provide a general holocaust of non- 
Muslim clerks and civil officials, and a panic took place 
aniongst the Christians. On the sth of that month a 
large number of clerks assembled at the ar-Riahin and 
went in procession through the streets with lamenta- 
tions and cries for mercy, and finally assembled before 
the palace imploring the Khahf's mercy. At the palace 
they were met by the Commander-in-Chief, Husayn b. 
Tawihar, who undertook to present their petition to the 
Khalif. Next day they returned and Husayn gave them 
letters of protection written out m three forms, one for 
Muslims, another for Christians, and another for Jews 
(cf. Maq. i. 286, sq.)- Although it was the clerks em- 
ployed in the public service who were chiefly concerned 
in this, there were also merdhants and private citizens 
who had dealings with the court who joined in the 
appeal and received letters of protection. Maqrizi has 
preserved a specimen of these letters from which we 
gather that they were by way of licences of toleration 
granted, in the case of Muslims, to those who had not 
become members of the Fatimite sect. The example he 
gives reads : " In the name of God, etc . This letter is 
from the servant of God and his wali Mansur Abu 'Ali 
the Imam Hakim bi-amrillahi, Commander of the 
faithful, to the people of the mosque of 'Abdullah: 
You are amongst those wfoo are in safety with the 



security of God, the King, the evident Truth, and with 
the security of our ancestor Muhammad, the seal of the 
prophets, and of our father 'Ali the best of his heirs, 
and of the line of the prophets, and of the people of the 
Mahdi our ancestor, may God be gracious to the 
Apostle and his envoy, and to all others of them; 
and the security of the Commander of the faithful is 
upon you yourselves, upon your kindred and property. 
Do not fear for yourselves, let no hand be raised against 
you save for the punishment of wrong-doing, or for a 
claim made and proved. Confidence must be given to 
this, and one must count on the accurate fulfilment of 
what is above, God willing. Written in the month of 
Jumada II. 395. Praise be to God, may he be gracious 
to Muhammad the chief of the apostles, to 'Ali the best 
of his successors, and to the Imams of the house of the 
Mahdi, kinsmen of the prophet, and may abundant 
peace be upon them" (Maq. i. 286). We note that 
Muhammad is described as " the seal of the prophets " 
quite in the orthodox way which gives no indication of 
the Fatimite teaching of a subsequent prophet of 
greater importance in Abdullah b. Maymun. The 
general tone is distinctly Shi'ite, but Fatimid only in 
the reference to the family of the Mahdi. 

Was there any basis to the rumour that a general 
holocaust was intended? Such a thing seems almost 
incredible, but there are certain signs which point in 
its favour. Soon after the appeal made to the Khalif 
in Rabi' I. he made a huge bonfire of all the wood 
collected, and for this there was no obvious purpose, 
and it is certain that he had developed a tendency to 
use burning as a form of punishment. We are not 
prepared to say, therefore, that the rumours circulated 
about the store of wood on Mokattam were entirely 

Al-Hakim was particularly severe upon the inferior 
servants of the court, and especially on the runners 
or footmen, many of whom were put to deatih whilst 
others obtained letters of protection. This may have 
been an instance of religious intolerance, or simply a 
case of the capricious cruelty which now began to 
appear in Hakim's conduct and contributed so much to 
the theory that he was suffering from a disordered mind. 


In 395 the old penal laws dating from the year 36 
were re-enforced against Christians and Jews. Both 
were required to wear a distinctive dress, the Christians 
to have turbans of black or dark blue, a custom which 
the Christians seem to have adopted voluntarily in the 
first place, and which the Coptic clergy retain to the 
present day, the Jews to wear yellow turbans : the 
women of both religions were forbidden to wear the 
waist sash which was a characteristic part of female 
attire, and the men were required to adopt it. At the 
same time it was forbidden to sell slaves to Christians 
or Jews. 

The citizens of Fustat, sorely tried by the scarcity 
and dearness of food resulting from the bad Niles, 
groaned in secret over the caprices and severities of 
their ruler, but did not yet venture to express their dis- 
satisfaction openly. It was otherwise with the free 
Arab tribes settled in the country, and in 395 the B. 

Surra in Lower Egypt broke out in open rebellion. Al- 
akim had no great trouble in punishing these rebels 
but his severity in doing so, although it checked the 
movement, only left them ready to take up arms again 
on a more promising opportunity, and for this they 
had not long to wait. 

A serious revolt took place in North Africa in 396, 
which before long seemed to threaten the very existence 
of the Fatimid Khalifate. In its first inception this 
revolt connected with far oft Spain. There the Umayyads 
had been reigning since 138, but were now in their 
decline. The supreme power at this time had passed 
into the hands of the Wazir Mansur ibn Abi 'Amir, who 
treated the Kfaalif of Cordova very much in the same 
way as Kafur had treated the later Ikhshids, but, more 
cruel and unscrupulous, was steadily getting rid of 
every one who stood in the way of his ambition. Many 
of the Umayyad kindred were put to death, whilst 
others left the country. Amongst these latter was one 
commonly known as Abu Raqwa, " the man with the 
leather bottle," because he carried a bottle like that 
used by the travelling darwishes, As a darwish he 
journeyed to Egypt, thence to Mecca, Yemen, and 
Syria, everywhere observing the possibilities of forming 
a party to support the claims of the Ummayyad family 
and the evidences of discontent and probabilities of 


stirring up civil strife. In all his wanderings, (however, 
he met with no success: the Umayyads had long 
passed out of the main current of Islamic life, and it 
did not seem that their name could anywhere be used 
as a rallying cry for the dissatisfied; there was no 
religious attachment to the Umayyads like there was to 
tlhe 'Alids. At last he came back to Egypt at the tinap 
when the B. Qorra were smarting under the severe 
chastisement they had received from Hakim', and this 
seemed to him to offer some promise. Passing west- 
wards he took refuge amongst the Berber tribe of 
Zanata where he obtained great esteem for his piety, 
acting as Imam in the services of t)he mosque and 
teaching the Qur'an to the children. It is perhaps as 
well to note that " Imam " in this connection means no 
more than customary leader in prayer ; it has nothing 
m common with the " Imam >J as understood by the 
Shi'ites, save that both imply the general idea of 
religious teacher. At length he managed to get a 
following, and proclaimed himself as Emir under the 
title of "he who is sent by the order of God " and 
" he who has victory over the enemies of God,' 1 both 
titles common enough amongst the Shi'ites but strange 
as applied to an Umayyad. His supporters were chiefly 
drawn from the Zanata, but before long he was joined 
also by other Berber tribes and by the B. Qorra. 

At the head of a considerable army of the usual un- 
disciplined Berber type Abu Raqwa advanced eastwards 
and took Barqa where he was careful to prevent all 
pillage and violence, and thus proclaimed that he was 
not a mere leader of triBes on the war path, but aimed 
at establishing an orderly government. At the fall of 
Barqa Hakim saw that the rebellion had to be taken 
seriously, and sent out an army under the command of 
Inal. This Egyptian force had to cross a considerable 
si retch of desert before it could reach Barqa, and Abu 
Raqwa sent a rapidly moving body of cavalry across 
the route to fill in the wells, and then waited at the end 
furthest from Egypt. At length Inal's force appeared, 
exhausted and thirsty from its desert march, and the 
engagement which followed left the advantage with 
Abu Raqwa. Before the action commenced a number 
of the Katama tribesmen serving with the Egyptians 
deserted and joined the enemy, induced to do so by 


disgust with the conduct and now notorious cruelties of 
Hakim'. When they presented themselves before Abu 
Raqwa their first act was to intercede with him on 
behalf of their fellow tribesmen still serving in the 
Fatimid army, and as he promised them a favourable 
reception they called out to them and they deserted also. 
After this Abu Raqwa joined battle and inflicted a 
serious defeat on Inal. The news of this disaster caused 
great alarm in Cairo; there was an immediate rise in 
the prices of provisions, and preparations were made 
for another expedition to North Africa. 

After his success Abu Raqwa made his residence at 
Barqa and seemed disposed to establish a kingdom in 
Ifnkiya. Before long, however, he received letters from 
several leading men in Egypt, including Husayn b. 
Tawhar who was Hakim's Commander-in-Chief, 
Begging him to invade Egypt and assuring him of a 
welcome and substantial support. This, more than 
anything else, shows to what an extent the strange 
conduct of Hakim had now alienated his subjects and 
even those who, like Husayn, were his chief ministers 
and were, or (had been, his personal friends. If we 
suppose that, by this time, Hakim had given unmis- 
takable signs of disordered intellect we shall find in 
that a reasonable explanation of the desire for some one 
to come and deliver the country from what threatened 
to be a serious danger. 

In response to this invitation Abu Raqwa started his 
advance into Egypt. The news of his undertaking 
threw the country into great alarm'. The Druze books 
describe Hakim himself as completely unmoved, but 
other writers speak of him as seriously frightened and 
even planning to retire to Syria if all came to the worst. 
Meanwhile he sent to Syria for the Hamdanid armies, 
and put the general Fadl b. Salih in command of the 
native forces. With these Syrians and sucih other 
levies as he could raise Fadl went out and encamped at 
Gizeh, waiting for the invaders. At their arrival Fadl 
did not give battle, but manoeuvred so as to evade them, 
and by his position at Gizeh prevented them from being 
able to make a crossing of the river as that would have 
exposed them to tiis attack whilst going across. Mean- 
while he managed to open up correspondence with 
some of the subordinate officers, amongst them with a 


certain captain of the B. Qorra named Mahdi, who 
agreed to keep him informed of all Abu Raqwa's plans. 
After some delay the invaders advanced direct upon 
the Fatimid general who was unable to evade the 
movement, and so an engagement was forced near Kum 
Sharik. It was not decisive, but it was very severe, and 
caused Fadl to determine not to give battle again if he 
could possibly avoid doing so. Owing to his severe 
losses he was compelled to retire, but still lay between 
Abu Raqwa and the river so as to be able to make a 
flank attack if the Berbers tried to cross. 

Abu Raqwa and his men, however, were perfectly 
confident that success was assured, and made plans for 
their future policy as conquerors. They decided to 
settle in Egypt and rule that country and the adjacent 
North Africa, leaving Syria to the Arabs. This scheme 
repeated the old plan of a purely Berber state in Africa 
with the Arabs excluded and sent back to their own 
country. Fadl received full information as to these 
projects. But there was treachery in his own army 
also : the Arab leaders brought from Syria had been 
tampered with by Abu Raqwa's agents who tried to 
persuade them that they were mating a mistake in 
fighting for the Fatimid state, and that it would be more 
satisfactory to divide its territories between them, the 
Africans under Abu Raqwa taking Egypt, the Asiatic 
Arabs taking Syria. It was agreed therefore that Abu 
Raqwa should make a night attack on Fadl's army and, 
as soon as the attack commenced, the Syrian leaders 
were to march their men over to the enemy and thus 
an easy victory would be assured. But Fadl was fullv 
informed of this plan, and the evening before the pro- 
jected attack he invited the Arab leaders to dine with 
him. When Hhe dinner was over and the guests wished 
to retire he detained them and, on one pretext or 
another, kept them near him until the enemy attacked. 
Even then he still detained them and sent orders to the 
Syrians to engage their opponents, and the Syrians, 
ignorant of tihe private plans of their leaders, did so. 
The followers of Abu Raqwa were surprised at the 
unexpected resistance and were finally driven off. 

Meanwhile Hakim succeeded in raising reinforce- 
ments of 4,000 horsemen, which he tried to send across 
the river to Fadl. Abu Raqwa heard of this and deter- 


mined to intercept them, setting out so quickly that 
Mahdi was unable to send a message to Fadl until he 
was already on the way. When the message reached 
Fadl it was too late, he could no longer get into a 
position to protect the new force from the fierce onset 
of the Berbers, and about a thousand of them were 
slain. The news of this misfortune, which Fadl con- 
trived to conceal from his men for a time, caused great 
alarm in the city : the people were seized with panic, 
they feared an immediate assault, they were too much 
alarmed lo remain in their houses and camped for the 
night in the streets. 

Even yet the way to the river was not clear, for a 
considerable force remained ready to attack the Berbers 
if they tried to get down to the ford, and Abu Raqwa 
found it impossible to gel to grips with them. So the 
Berbers were moved nearer and look up their position 
before the pyramids. Fadl followed at a distance. 
Then Abu Raqwa thought that he could force an 
engagement by leading him into an ambush. He 
passed on, therefore, towards the Fayyum, and at a 
place called Sabkha stationed a body of men in conceal- 
ment and sent another company back towards FadL 
This body made a perfunctory attack and then turned 
to flight "so as to draw the pursuers to the place of 
ambush. Unfortunately the whole plan had not been 
clearly explained to the men beforehand, and when 
those in ambush saw the others in flight they thought 
there had been a real defeat and, coming out of conceal- 
ment, joined their retreat. This change in the arranged 
programme threw Abu Raqwa' s men into confusion, 
and Fadl profiting by the disorder fell upon them and 
inflicted a severe defeat. This took place on the 3rd of 
Dhu 1-Hijja in 396. As a result Fadl was able to send 
to Cairo 6,000 heads of enemy slain and 100 prisoners. 

This severe engagement was decisive, although Abu 
Raqwa himself escaped and fled, first to Upper Egypt, 
then to Nubia. Here he went to Hisnaljebel where the 
Nubian king lay ill, and pretended to be an ambassador 
sent by the Bhalif Hakim. Owing to the -Icing's illness 
he was not able to see him and thus, ostensibly waiting 
for an interview, he was able to live for some tim'e in 
security. Fadl had followed close behind to the Nubian 
frontier and managed to find out where he was. As 


soon as he knew this he sent a messenger to the 
governor of the palace informing him of the facts, and 
the governor had Abu Raqwa kept under close observ- 
ation. In due course the king died and his son ordered 
the fugitive to be conducted across the frontier, and 
so he was taken across and conducted to Fadl's camp. 
The Fatimid general received him with every courtesy 
and, fully supposing that Fadl's conduct lepresenteid 
the attitude of the Khalif the prisoner, as he was in 
spite of polite treatment, wrote a letter to al-Hakim 
appealing to his generosity and begging that he might 
be pardoned for his rebellion with protestations of 

The letter was duly sent and Fadl marched down 
towards Cairo with his prisoner who was still treated 
with every consideration. When they had passed 
Gizeh and were about to enter Fustat, on Saturday the 
2;th Jumada II. 397, orders were received by Fadl from 
the Khalif that Abu Raqwa was to enter the city riding 
on a camel, wearing Abzari's turban, and with Abzari 
and his monkey mounted behind. Abzari 's turban was 
one of many gaudy colours which it was customary for 
those condemned to death to wear on their final parade 
to the place of execution, and the monkey was specially 
trained to strike with a whip across the face of a 
criminal set in front of him. For this performance 
Abzari was to receive 500 pieces of gold and ten pieces 
of cloth. 

Thus Abu Raqwa entered Fustat in the midst of the 
army, preceded by fifteen elephants. The whole city 
was adorned as for a public holiday, and the population 
lined the streets to see Abu Raqwa paraded until he 
was brought to a balcony where al-Hakim was seated. 
The Khalif then pronounced on him the sentence that 
he was to be conducted to a piece of elevated ground 
before the mosque of Raydan and there beheaded. But 
when they reached the place of execution and the camel 
knelt for Abu Raqwa to dismount it was found that he 
was already dead. The body was stretched out, and 
the head cut off and carried to the Khalif. 

This success raised FadPs reputation, and for a time 
al-Hakim showed great appreciation of his services* 
When the general fell ill the Khalif visited him several 
times, and when he recovered he presented him with 


gifts of large estates. Two years later, however, Fadl 
was put to death. 

Severus of Ashmunayn relates an anecdote about al- 
Hakim which is commonly supposed to refer to Fadl, 
but it is not certain that it does so refer, and many 
things related by Severus seem to be open to question. 
According to this anecdote a certain favourite, who may 
have been Fadl or may not, once entered al-Hakim'b 
presence and found him with a comely child whom he 
had bought for 100 pieces of gold. He had just cut the 
child's throat, and had opened the body and taken out 
the liver and entrails which he was cutting up as the 
visitor entered. At the sight the onlooker could not 
repress an involuntary movement of repulsion and 
hastily withdrew. He knew quite well that his discovery 
and expression of disapproval meant his execution, and 
at once went home, put his affairs in order, and waited 
for his summons. Before long a messenger from the 
palace arrived, and the minister who had seen too much 
was led away and put to death. Whether Fadl was the 
hero of this anecdote, or whether the story has any 
basis at all, remains uncertain, but it is known that he 
was executed by the Khalif s orders. 

Abu Raqwa's rebellion certainly makes an important 
turning-point in Hakim's reign. After it he made 
certain concessions to prevailing Muslim opinion, that 
is to say he relaxed some of his Shi'ite prejudices and 
left off some of the practices, such as the cursing of the 
early Khalifs, which were most offensive to his orthodox 
subjects, but at the same time he increased in severity 
towards the Christians and Jews who were generally 
hated as forming the greater par! of the civil officials 
and tax-collectors. 

As might be expected the rebellion was followed by 
several changes in the personnel of the court. The 
Commander-in-Chief, Husayn b. Jawhar, was deprived 
of his office on the roth of Shaban 398, ordered to 
remain in his house, and forbidden to take part in the 
public processions which accompanied the Khalif on 
his visits to the principal mosques : but shortly after- 
wards he was pardoned and ordered to resume his place 
in these functions, As we have seen, it was Husayn 
who took part in the invitation to Abu Raqwa, 
Whether this was known at the time to the Khalif or 


not does not appear, but it is very probable that he had 
reasons for suspecting his fidelity. The office of 
Commander-in-Chief was given to Sahh Rudbari b. 

On the i6th of Rejeb 398 the Chief Qadi and Da'i 
'Abdu l-'Aziz also was deprived of office, perhaps here 
again there was reason to suspect correspondence with 
the enemy, and his place given to Malik b. Sa'id al- 
Faraqi, About three years later, as we shall see, both 
Husayn and 'Abdu l-'Aziz were so much alarmed that 
they fled the country, but afterwards returned and were 
put to death in 401. A change was made also in the 
important governorship of Damascus to which 'Ali b. 
Falah was appointed in 398. 

We may trace a connection between the anxiety 
caused by Abu Raqwa's revolt, complicated by growing 
dissatisfaction amongst the people, with Hakim's 
abandonment of his more aggressive Shi'ite attitude 
and partial return to Sunni practice. In 397 he ordered 
all the inscriptions reviling the early Khahfs to 
be effaced, and all persons who cursed them were 
punished by flogging and paraded through the streets 
in disgrace (Maq ii. 286, Ibn Khali, in. 450). This 
year (397) he sent a white veil to cover the " House of 
God " at Mecca, white being more or less the official 
colour of the Fatimids. Perhaps this more orthodox 
attitude should be connected with his severer treatment 
of the Christians which dates from 398, and both were 
bids for popularity. 

The year 398 had a particularly bad Nile, the river 
rising only sixteen yards and sixteen fingers of the 
seventeenth yard, with the result that there was a great 
rise in prices and consequent hardship. Complaint was 
made to the Khalif that the dearness of corn was largely 
caused by dealers hoarding supplies so as to force an 
increase, and al-Hakim announced that he would ride 
through the city himself and make enquiry, and would 
behead anyone he found with a hoard of corn. Next 
day he rode from his palace and passed through Fustat 
and out to the mosque of Rashida, his attendants 
entering houses and searching for stores of ^ corn. 
None, however, were found, and the result of tihis was 
that popular feeling was pacified and the idea that the 
scarcity was artificially produced removed. In 399 the 


Nile suffered an unexpected check and there was in- 
creased anxiety. Twice the Khahf conducted public 
prayers for a good Nile. Several taxes were remitted, 
but bread became so dear that it could be obtained only 
with the greatest difficulty. On Che 4th of the Egyptian 
month of Tot (circ. ist September) the canal was 
opened, but the river had then risen only 15 yards. 
On the gth of Muharram, the middle of Tot, the 
waters began to go down, the total rise having readied 
only 16 yards : as a result food became even dearer and 
the famine was followed by plague. 

Tt was no doubt as an act of mourning that Hakim 
issued orders forbidding the holding of pleasure parties, 
excursions, or concerts on the river or its banks. 

Although al-Hakim, by ordering the removal of the 
imprecatory inscriptions against the early Kliahfs had 
done something to conciliate public opinion, he con- 
tinued to enforce strictly the regulations against wine, 
beer, and the various kinds of food disapproved by the 
Shi'ites, and many fishmongers were arrested for 
selling fish without scales. Indeed the city was thrown 
into consternation by the extreme seventy with which 
these and other rules were enforced. Et was in this year 
(399) that the general Fadl was executed, and many 
other persons were punished by having their hands cut 
off. A decree published this year allowed the fast of the 
month of Ramadan lo finish at the date as obtained by 
astronomical calculations, without waiting for the 
actual appearance of the new moon, a Fatimid novelty 
which was regarded with disapproval and is still not 
admitted by the orthodox. New regulations allowed 
the use of the Shi'ite formula in the call to prayer, or 
the Sunni call at the muezzin's discretion ; no complaint 
was to be made in either case. No one was to utter 
any imprecation against the early Khalifs, and if any 
one liked to use the reverent formula * ' God have mercy 
on them M in using their names, thus treating them as 
saints, they were allowed to do so : if on the other hand 
they chose to use the more honourable formula " God 
be "gracious to him H after the name of 'Ali, there was 
full liberty to do so. Every Muslim was free to follow 
Sunni or Shi'ite usage as he preferred (Ibn Khali. Hi. 

Al-Hakim 's more definite anti-Christian and anti- 


Jewish policy began in 398. In that year he seized the 
property of the churdhes and placed it under the 
control of the state treasury. He forbade the public 
processions which had generally been observed at the 
feast of Hosannas (Palm Sunday), at the feast of the 
Cross, and at the Epiphany. By his orders a large 
number of crosses were publicly burned before the 
doors of the Old Mosque, and orders were sent out 
that the same was to be done in the provinces. In some 
of the churches little mosques were constructed, and 
from these the usual call to prayer was given. Severus 
tells us that the use of bells was now prohibited. 

The churches on tihe road to Maqs were destroyed, 
as well as the Coptic church of al-Maghitha in the 
treet of Rome, and all their contents were seized. 
Many other churches were pillaged and destroyed, the 
sacred vessels, furniture, and goods being handed over 
to Muslims, and the vessels often sold m the public 
markets. Amongst these were the churches at Rashida 
outside Fustat and the convent of Dayr al-Kasr on 
Mokattam, all these being given over to the people who 
plundered them. 

Various persons sent in petitions to search churdhes 
and monasteries in the provinces for hoarded wealth, 
and received permission to do so (cf. Maq. Hist, of 
Copts). It is clear that this kind of persecution was 
generally popular, at least in it? earlier stages, for it 
was generally believed that the Christians had used 
their opportunities as tax collectors to defraud the 
country to a serious extent. This no doubt contained a 
measure of truth, although the Fatimid government 
kept a closer and more careful control over its officials 
than has always been done by oriental powers. But it 
must be noted that resentment was felt towards the 
Christians and Jews, not for their religious beliefs, but 
because they were revenue officials. 

In 400 Salih b. 'Ali Rudbari was deprived of his 
office as chief minister and replaced by Mansur b, 
'Abdun, a Christian clerk, for at no time did the per- 
secution take such a form as to prevent tihe advancement 
of Christians and Jews to high and responsible offices 
in the state. The new minister was hated by the nobles 
who made accusations against him and brought forward 


his religion as one of the grounds of attack. This 
caused a brief but severe outburst against the Christian 
officials. Many of them were scourged to death and 
their bodies thrown to the dogs, and Mansur himself 
was beaten and left for dead, but as his friends stood 
round they perceived that there were signs of life in 
him, so they took him up and carried him home. After 
some time he recovered and went back without remark 
to his duties. Such a state of affairs seems to us almost 
incredible, for his duties were practically those of a 
prime minister, and that he should have been thus 
scourged, left to the dogs, as was the intention, and 
then when he was well enough go back to the highest 
office in the state without any particular remark seems 
to present al-Hakim's court rather in the light of a 
lunatic asylum : practically it was very near that, for it 
can hardly be doubted that the Khalif at this time was 
definitely insane. 

Orders were sent to Jerusalem for the destruction of 
the church of al-Qayama lt the resurrection," the most 
famous and honoured sanctuary of Christendom. In 
accordance with these orders it was plundered and then 
pulled down, an act which produced a deep feeling of 
anger in the Christian community generally, as well 
as amongst the subjects of the Greek Empire as 
amongst those who lived in Hakim's dominions. 
Indirectly it caused the Christian world to form an idea 
of Islam as a persecuting power, and so paved the wav 
to the Crusades. The cause of the destruction of this 
sanctuary is said to have been a malicious report which 
alleged that the Christians practised a fraud in con- 
nection with the " holy fire " given out at Easter in 
that church. This blessing and distribution of new 
fire is a prominent part of the Easter Eve ceremonies 
of the Greek and of the Gallic churches, and from 1 the 
latter afterwards passed into the Roman rite where it 
originally had no place. A common but apparently 
unauthorised superstition amongst the Greeks repre- 
sents this " new fire n as distributed .in the Church of 
the Resurrection at Jerusalem as sent down from 
heaven, and this superstition was already in existence 
in the days of Hakim. A certain chaplain of the 
church, suffering from some grievance, declared to the 
Muslim authorities that the canons of the dhurch prac- 


tised a fraud to play upon this superstition. He said 
that they used to anoint the iron chain by which the 
great lamp was suspended in the chapel of the Holy 
Sepulchre, and that after the Muslim governor (had 
closed and sealed the door of the church, as was the 
custom, they used to get at the chain from the roof and 
so the fire was passed along the anointed surface and 
reached the wick of the lamp which was thus lighted, 
whilst the chaplains sang Kyrie eleison and wept, and 
pretended that the fire came down from heaven, thus 
confirming the Christians in their religious errors (Bar 
Hebraeus : Chron., pp. 215 sqq.)- 

Sererus attributes the outbreak of this persecution to 
a monk named John whom the Patriarch steadily 
refused to ordain bishop and who, on this account, 
made his complaint to the Kfaalif. He waylaid Hakim 
as he was walking on the Mokattam hills and called 
on him for assistance, at the same time presenting a 
petition in which he said : " You arc the ruler of this 
country, but the Christians 'have a king 1 who is more 
powerful than you by reason of tliu immense wealth he 
has acquired. He sells bishoprics for money and acts 
in a way displeasing to God." Influenced by this 
petition Hakim ordered the churches to be closed and 
the Patriarch to be brought before him. The Patriarch 
Zacharias was a man far advanced in years and now, 
by the Khalifs order, was cast into prison. The very 
day after the Patriarch's arrest Hakim sent the letter to 
the governor in Jerusalem 1 ordering the destruction of 
the Church of nhe Resurrection, the clerk who prepared 
the letter being a Christian named Ibn Sharkin. 

Shortly after this Hakim sent out notices to all the 
provinces that churches were to be destroyed and their 
gold and silver vessels confiscated, that all bishops 
were to be arrested, and that no one was to buy from 
or sell to Christians. At this many Christians con- 
formed lo Islam, whilst in most places they left off the 
distinctive outward signs of their religion as laid down 
in the revived penal laws, and popular usage evidently 
connived at this. 

The Patriarch remained three months in prison ; each 
day he was threatened with burning or being cast to 
wild beasts if he did not conform lo Islam, whilst he 
was promised that if he did conform he would be made 


Chief Qadi and covered with (honours, but neither 
threat nor promises made any impression on him. His 
gaoler visited him' frequently and treated him roughly, 
but this he bore with patience and resignation. A 
Muslim fellow-prisoner tried to persuade him to con- 
form, but he only replied, " All my confidence is in 
God who is almighty; it is He who will help me " 

A certain Christian who had been collector of taxes 
was in the same prison suffering the penalty for a 
deficit of 3,000 pieces of gold in his accounts. This 
prisoner was a friend of a noble Arab of the B. Qorra 
tribe, named Mahdi b. Mokrab, perhaps the same^who 
had assisted Fadl at the time of Abu Raqwa's revolt, 
and he stood high in the Khalif 's favour. One day he 
visited his Christian friend and promised to ask the 
Khalif for his release. The prisoner said, " I should 
not be willing to go out of this and leave here the 
Patriarch, the old man whom you see," Mahdi 
enquired why the Patriarch was in prison, and when 
he heard the reason he judged that it would not be 
prudent to speak about him by name to Hakim, but he 
asked the Khalif to grant the liberty of all those who 
were detained in that prison. The Khalif consented 
and so the Patriarch was set free and went to Fustat, 
a thing which was the cause of great joy to all the 
Christians. But as his freedom had been granted only 
by an oversight it was judged expedient for him to go 
away and hide him'self , so he retired to the valley of 
Habib where he lived in retirement for nine years. 
In that particular part the churches had not been 
destroyed. Officials and workmen had been sent to do 
so, but they were afraid of the Bedwin of the desert 
near and retired without doing anything. 

The Khalif issued orders forbidding the Christians 
to observe the " Feast of Baptism,*' i.e., the Epiphany, 
on the banks of the Nile, and prohibited the games and 
amusements which usually accompanied the celebration 
of that feast. He also forbade the observance of the 
" Feast of Hosannas," i.e., Palm Sunday, and the 
Feast of the Cross in the autumn. At that time it was 
customary for Muslims and even the Khalifs them- 
selves, to take part in the public festivities with which 
the Christians celebrated their greater festivals. 


The destruction of churches was general during the 
course of this persecution, especially m the year 403. 
By 405 some 30,000 had been pillaged and pulled down 
in Syria and Egypt, and many of the Jewish syna- 
gogues were treated in a similar manner. Very often 
mosques were erected on their sites. The great church 
of the Mu'allaqa was taken from the Christians, and 
the Muslim call to prayer was made in the Church of 
Shenuda in Fustat. In many places people presented 
petitions asking permission to seize one of the churches 
or monasteries, and these petitions were invariably 
granted. The furniture of the churches and their 
vessels of gold and silver were confiscated and sold in 
the markets, the price obtained being paid into the 
treasury or given to some of the Khali? 's retainers. A 
special board was established to deal with the confis- 
cated property and the goods belonging to those who 
had been put to death. 

\\> turn now to Hakim's dealings with the Muslims 
during the year 400. In the earlier part of the year 
many persons who had been detected m possession of 
beer, malukhia, etc., were arrested and beaten. There 
was a growing disquiet at Hakim's severity, and a large 
number of people thought it well to take out letters of 
protection. Panic seized Husayn b. Jawhar the ex- 
(Cornmander in Chief, 'Abdu l-*Aziz b* Nu'man, and 
Abu 1-Kasam Husayn b, Maghrabi, and they fled the 
country- The laws against intoxicating drinks were 
executed with great rigour, and a number of eunuchs, 
clerks, and footmen were put to death. In the month 
of Shawal Salih b. *Ali Rudbari was put to death. On 
the i Qth of this same month an order was published 
dispensing with the payment of the fifth levied on the 
Shi'ites, of the sum paid at the end of Ramadan as 
alms, and of the nejwa, or " voluntary contribution," 
all sums collected from the Isma'ilian sect. About the 
same time the " conferences of wisdom," the regular 
meetings of the sect which were held in the palace, 
were discontinued. This seems like an anti-Shi'ite 
change of attitude on the Khalif 's part, but the only 
reasonable explanation of the numerous and arbitrary 
developments which took place about this time is that 
-which commanded itself to many contemporary ob- 


servers, namely, that the Khalif was insane, and the 
disorder of his mind was gi owing worse. 

Later in the year Hakim abandoned the enforcement 
of several distinctively Shi'ite usages. He ordered the 
restoration of the formula known as the tethwih in the 
call to prayer; the muezzins were lorbidden to add 
" Come to the most excellent work " 10 the call, and 
were ordered party badges. Permission was given for 
the use of the salat ad-Duha or voluntary forenoon 
prayer which had been strictly forbidden in 393, and 
also for the use of the prayer known as k until. In the 
course of the year Hakim presenicd lamps and a large 
candelabrum to the Mosque or Jiaslndu. 

The result of these events was ihai Hakim iell into 
ill repute with the Shi'iles who hnd come to Cairo from 
many parts, and now found themselves in a town 
veering round to orthodox Muslim customs. Other 
events, however, quickly made him even more ob- 
noxious to the orthodox. He had sent officials to 
Madina to open the houso which had formerly belonged 
to Ja'far as-Sadiq and to bring away whatever might 
be found there. When the was opened the 
officials found in it a Qur'an, a bed, and some 
furniture, and the Da'i Khatkm, who superintended the 
opening, carried away these articles, and at the same 
time helped themselves to the taxes which the sharijs 
paid. Khatkm then returned to Egypt accompanied 
by a large number of sharifs, all descendants of 'AH, 
who were led to expect generous treatment from Hakim. 
But when they reached the Khnlif's presence he gave 
them only a very small part of the money Khatkin had 
brought back and kept the bulk for himself, saying that 
he deserved it more than they did, as he, the true heir 
of 'Ali, was the head of the sharifs. The sharifs at 
this left Cairo and returned to Madina cursing him 
(Abu 1-Mahasin). 

Hakim then decided to remove tho bodies of the two 
first Khalifs, Abu Bakr and Umar, who were buried at 
Madina. His envoys bribed an 'Alicl who lived in a 
house close by the burial place, and with his help they 
began digging a passage through to the tombs. But 
a violent storm arose which so terrified the citizens that 
many of them sought refuge in the holy place where 
the Prophet and the early Khalifs were buried. The 



storm still continued until at last the 'Alid who had 
assisted Hakim's envoys himself became alarmed, and 
revealed the project on which they were engaged to 
the governor who had him punished, and provided that 
the plan should not be carried out (Mirkhond on the 
authority of the Istidkar of the Qadi Ahmad Damagmi). 

On the whole Hakim seems at this time to have been 
endeavouring to conciliate Sunni opinion, perhaps he 
had even intended to honour Abu Bakr and 'Umar by 
shrines in one or other of the burial places of Cairo. 
Certainly he was trying to please the Sunnis when, in 
this same year (400), he founded a college for instruo 
tion in the Mahkite system of jurisprudence, the form 
of canon law in vogue before the arrival of the 
Fatimids, and the one to which the Egyptians were 
most attached. He presented the college with a 
library, and appointed Abu Bakr Antaki as its prin- 
cipal, and bestowed robes of honour on the principal 
and the lecturers whom he welcomed at court. For 
three years Hakim continued to favour the Sunnis, and 
then he suddenly changed his attitude. In the following 
year indeed the pro-Sunni decrees began to be modified. 
On the I2th of Rabi* II. 401 the call to prayer was 
again ordered to be made in the Shi'ite form, the 
tethwib, and the words " Prayer is better than sleep " 
were again forbidden, and the formula " Come to the 
excellent work " was restored. The fore-noon volun- 
tary prayer was prohibited and so the Tarawih. When 
Hakim found that the latter form had been used in the 
Old Mosque in spite of his prohibition during the whole 
of Ram'adan he had the leader of the prayer put to 
death. At the same time the "Conferences of wisdom" 
were restored in the palace, and the various subscrip- 
tions due from the initiated of the Isma'ilian sect were 
again collected. It is impossible to follow anything 
like policy or purpose in these incessant changes; it 
can only be supposed that the Khalif 's mental malady 
was getting worse. 

In the following year (401) new laws were published 
forbidding all pleasure parties on the banks of the canal 
and requiring all doors and windows opening on the 
canal to be kept closed: other laws forbade music, 
games, or meetings for pleasure at Sahra : and others 


forbidding loose entertainments anywhere or the sale 
of singing girls, 

Changes in the personnel of the administration now 
begin to become more numerous and capricious. At 
the beginning of 401 the chief minister, Mansur b. 
Abdun, the one who had once been scourged and left 
for dead, was deprived of his office, and later in the 
year was put to death and his goods confiscated. He 
was replaced by Ahmad b. Muham'mad Kashuri, who 
was beheaded after ten days. The next minister was 
the clerk Zara, son of Isa b. Nestorius. Husayn b. 
Jawhar and 'Abdu l-'Aziz b. Numan, who had fled the 
country in the previous year were invited to return and 
were received with honour ; only to be put to death and 
have their goods confiscated a few months later* The 
third fugitive, Abu 1-Kasam Husayn, had gone to 
Syria and declined to come back. We shall find him 
a little later stirring up trouble tor Hakim. 

Turning to Syrian affairs we find similar rapid and 
frequent changes. In 400 Abu 1-Jaysh Hamid b. 
Masham was replaced by Muhammad b. Nazae as 
governor of Damascus. In 401 Lu'lu 1 b. Abdullah was 
appointed governor, reaching Damascus in the month 
of Jumada II. On the loth of D'hu 1-Hijja at the 
11 Feast of Sacrifice " he was replaced by Dhu 

The most important event of 401 was the revolt of 
Hasan b. Mufarraj b. Daghfal b. Jarrah Taiy (cf . year 
387). He was persuaded 1o this by Husayn, the one 
of the three who fled from Egypt in 399 and was not 
willing to return. His two sons and two brothers had 
been put to death at the request of the minister, Mansur 
b* Abdun, his mortal enemy, and il was this which 
had alarmed him and caused his flight in the first place. 
He took refuge with Hasan, and used every persuasion 
to induce (him to revolt. The rebel faction was headed 
by Hasan's father Mufarraj, and was joined by a 
number of Arabs, and very ?oon by the whole of the 
tribes of the Hijaz under the leadership of the Sultan 
of Mecca, Husayn b. Ja'far, Hakim sent Yarakhtakin 
to Aleppo with a large army to put down this move- 
ment. As soon as he arrived in Syria Mufarraj and his 
son became extremely anxious but, between Gaza and 
Ascalon they managed to get him into an ambush, and 


in the ensuing battle the Fatimid general was slain. 
The rebels then besieged Ramla and, as new recruits 
pressed in every day, they soon took it. Hakim sent 
them letters of remonstrance, but these were dis- 
regarded, and they invited the Sultan of Mecca to 
assume the Khalif ate, This he was perfectly ready to 
do and, leaving a deputy in the city, joined the army 
of Mufarraj, and was saluted " Commander of the 

But Hakim wrote again to Hasan and Mufarraj 
promising them estates and other gifts if they would 
cease from rebellion, so they resolved to abandon the 
newly proclaimed Khalif and returned to their alle- 
giance. The result of this was a violent dispute 
between them and the man they had just invited to be 
Khalif. In the end he left them and returned to Mecca, 
taking Husayn Maghrabi with him 1 . Not long after- 
wards Hakim sent an army under Ja'far b. Fallah to 
Syria, and expelled Hasan and his followers from 
Ramla. For two years Hasan remained in exile then, 
at the intercession of his father Mufarraj, Hakim par- 
doned him and gave him an estate in Egypt. Ultim- 
ately Mufarrai was poisoned by the Khalif's orders. 
The anti-Khalifate of Mecca continued until 403, when 
the prince requested to be reconciled to Hakim, and 
when this was granted put Hakim's name on his 
coinage and inserted it in the khutba. 

In 401 Karwash b. Mukallad, chief of the Arabs of 
Okayl, revolted against the 'Abbasid Khalif and trans- 
ferred his allegiance to Hakim, whose name was 
inserted in the khutba in Mosul, Anbar, Madayn, and 
other towns. In Mosul the form commenced : " Praise 
be to God, by whose light the shadows of tyranny have 
been scattered, by whose greatness the foundations of 
the heresy of the enemies of 'AH have been rooted up, 
by whose power the sun of truth has risen in tihe west 
(i.e>, in Africa)." Baha d-Dawla, the 'Abbasid 
Khalif's guardian, ordered the Emir al-Joyush to march 
against Karwash, who at once sent his apologies to the 
Khalif of Baghdad, and the recognition of the rival 
Fatimid Khalit ceased. 

Next year (402) Hakim made more rigorous decrees 
against beer, vegetables disapproved by the Shi'ites, 
and the use of fish without .scales. He further forbade 


women to go to funerals or to visit the cemeteries. He 
strictly suppressed the playing of chess, and caused 
chess-boards to be burned. Gathering the fishermen 
together he exacted from them a pledge that they would 
not take any fish without scales, and further threatened 
them with death if they were found selling any such. 

He had already forbidden the use of beer, and the 
usual law against wine was strictly enforced. Now he 
forbade the sale of dried raisins because they were used 
by some for the making of wine : he forbade their 
importation into the country, and ordered all found in 
stores to be destroyed, in consequence of which some 
2,340 boxes of dried raisins were burned, the value being 
put at 500 pieces of gold. He next forbade the sale of 
fresh grapes exceeding four pounds at a time; in any 
case grapes were not to be exposed for sale in the 
markets, and strict prohibition was made against 
squeezing out the juice. Very many grapes found on 
sale were confiscated, and either trodden in the street 
or thrown into the Nile. The vines at Gizeb were cut 
down and oxen employed to tread the fruit into the 
mire. Orders were issued that the same was to be done 
throughout the provinces. But honey as well as grapes 
can be used in preparing fermented liquor, so the 
Khalif 's seal was affixed to the stores of honey at Gizeh, 
and some 5,051 jars of honey were broken and their 
contents poured into the Nile, as well as 51 cruisee of 
date honey. The sale of fresh dates was then forbidden, 
and many dates were collected and burned (Maq. ii, 
287, Ibn Khali, iii. 450). 

A curious story is told by Severus of Ashmunayn in 
connection with these laws of 402. A certain merchant 
had all his money invested in the prohibited fruit, and 
lost everything by the seizure and destrurHon of his 
goods. Me appeared before the Qadi and summoned 
Hakim to appear and make good the destruction caused 
by his officials. The Khahf appeared to answer the 
charge preferred against him, the Qadi treating him 
like any other citizen against whom complaint had been 
made. The merchant asked for compensation to the 
amount of 1,000 pieces of gold. Hakim in his defence 
says that the fruits destroyed were intended to be used 
in the preparation of drinks forbidden by the law of 
the Qur'an, but that if the merchant will swear that 


they were not intended for this purpose but only to be 
eaten (he was willing to pay their price. The merchant 
refuses to take the oath until the Khalif actually pro- 
duced the money before the Qadi. Hakim ordered the 
money to be brought into court, and when it is pro- 
duced the merchant swore that the fruit was intended 
only for eating* He then received the money and gave 
the Khalif a formal receipt. He then demanded letters 
of protection from the Khalif that he might not incur 
any retaliation for his suit, and these were given. When 
the case was concluded the Oadi, who had up to this 

Eoint treated both parties as ordinary suitors, rose from 
is seat and gave the Khalif the salute customary at 
court. Hakim admired the Oadi's conduct, and made 
him valuable presents in recognition of his treatment 
of the case. 

This year the 'Abbasid Khalif assembled t'hu leading 
'Alids and several prominent canonists at Baghdad, 
and prepared a manifesto against the *Alid claims of the 
Fatimid Khalifs. To this we have already referred (cf . 
p. 48 supra): how much weight should bo attached to 
it is doubtful, for t'he motives and pressure brought to 
bear are obvious. We know, however, that Hakim was 
greatly annoyed by it. 

We have come now to the year 403, another bad year 
of great scarcity and famine. Early in the year (on 
the 2nd of Rabi* I) the minister, Zara b. Isa b. 
Nestorius, was put to death and his plnce given, twenty- 
seven days later, to Husayn b. Tahur al-Wazssan,, who 
received the title of Emir al-Umara 4< Prince of the 
empire." This Husayn began to mako a careful survey 
of the income and expenditure of the slate, and 
expressed his plain opinion that Hakim's constant and 
lavish presents were unwise, some measure of economy 
was urgently called for. It seems that these acts of 
generosity had now become excessive. In after years 
the sacred books of the Druses in praising Hakim lay 
especial emphasis on his unexampled generosity in 
presenting not only honours and titles but also pen- 
sions, estates, fiefs, etc, upon all his friends (cf. de 
Sacy : Chrestom. ii, 69-70), The Emir even suspended 
payment of the orders brought to the treasury bearing 
the Khalifs seal, and addressed a remonstrance to the 
sovereign. Hakim replied in a tone of kindly remon- 


strance urging the treasurer to pay the orders. The 
Emir did so, but sends in a full statement of the sums 
paid and of the gifts made to strangers. 

Extravagance was the besetting fault of all the 
Fatimids, but it reached its extreme in Hakim. Whilst 
he was alienating large portions of the public property 
which was not, of course, distinguished from his own 
private possessions, he was also making lavish gifts to 
the mosques of Fustat and Cairo. In Jumada II. of this 
year he resolved to furnish the mosque which he had 
completed in Cairo and which bears the name of 
Hakim's Mosque. A preliminary estimate of the cost 
of the lamps, chains, mats, etc. came to 5,000 pieces of 
gold. Early in Ramadan he presented a lannur or large 
candelabrum to the Old Mosque in Fustat. This 
tannur weighed 100,000 drams and had 1,200 lights. Jt 
was carried to the mosque to the sound of drums and 
trumpets and with cries of teklil ( u there is no power 
or might but in God ") and Lakbir ( 41 God is great "), 
the procession being led by the Ka'id (Commander-in- 
Chief). When they came near the mosque it WHS found 
necessary to remove the mastabas or stone benches 
outside the houses on the way, and to dig up the roads 
to enable the tannur to be brought to the door, and 
then the upper part of the door had to be removed by 
masons to get the lamp in. The Khalif presented the 
mosque at the same time with 1,290 copies of the Qur'an, 
some of which were written in letters of #ol<l. 

At the beginning of his reign Hakim had forbidden 
tihe use of the honorific titles customarily applied to the 
Fatimid Khalifs. He now forbade the custom of 
kissing the ground before him, and of kissing his hand 
or stirrup. These customs, he stated, were imitated 
from the Hyzantine court and so not seemly for 
Muslims. In salutation he desired the use of the simple 
formula: "Hail to the Commandor of the faithful; 
may the mercy and bussing of God be on him." Never 
in speech or in writing might the formula be used, 
" God be propitious to him," as this was applied to the 
patriarchs and saints. In writing petitions, etc*, the 
formula should be, " May the peace of God, (his 
abundant favour and blessing, rest upon the Com- 
mander of the faithful." Similar forms, and no others, 
were to be used in praying for the Khalif : in the 


khutba the form approved was, " O God, be propitious 
to Muhammad thy chosen ; grant peace to l Ali the first 
of believers, wtiom thou hast honoured with thy 
bounty : O God grant peace to the princes of the 
believers, the fathers of the Commander of the faithful : 
O God, mav thy most excellent peace rest on thy servant 
and vicar ' r (Maq. ii. 288, Ibn Khali, lii. 451). 

At the palace the use of cymbals and trumpets when 
the guard made the rounds was forbidden, all was to 
be done without music. A new seal was engraved for 
the use of the Khalif bearing the inscription, kt By the 
help of God most high and beneficent, the Imam ( Ali 
will be victorious " (Maq. id.). 

Various events of passing interest are associated witn 
the month of Jumada II. of this year, the month, it will 
be remembered, in which the Knur of Mecca abandoned 
his claim to the Khalifate and was reconciled to Hakim. 
On the very day on which the Kmir's envoy was 
received Hakim commenced building an observatory at 
Karafa. This observatory was never finished. It 
should be noted in passing that various occasional 
references in the historians justify us in regarding 
Hakim as greatly interested in astrology as well as in 
other branches of natural science, and in this he was 
true to the Fatimid tradition. After receiving the sub- 
mission of the Emir of Mecca Hakim wrote a letter to 
the Sultan, Mahmud of Ghazna, the great champion of 
orthodoxy, asking for his allegiance. It could hardly 
be expected that Mahmud would tolerate or recognise 
any Shi'ite, least of all the head of the Katimid dynasty* 
On receiving the letter the Sultan ton; it in pieces and 
spat on the fragments, afterwards sending them to the 
Abbasid Khalif al-Qadir. 

It was perhaps in this year, as I)e Sacy thinks, 
although Abu 1-Mahsin refers to 400, the Tarikh Jafari 
to 404, that a crowd of men, presumably Shi'ites, came 
to the palace demanding justice against the Egyptians. 
It seems that, as Hakim was now passing through an 
orthodox phase and, as we have seen, had abandoned 
some of his pro-Shi 'ite legislation, the orthodox 
Egyptians had been teasing the Shi'ites and paying 
them back for the insults they had ventured upon in the 
time of their ascendancy. They were not able to obtain 
an interview with the Kfaalif, but were told to come 


again next day. Some go away, but many pass the 
whole night before the palce. Next day the clamours 
recommenced, until at length the Ka'id appeared and 
ordered them to withdraw. They then went to the Qadi 
who assured them that he had no power of dealing with 
their complaints, and they left his couit cursing the 
" Companions/' that is to say, the early Khahfs who, 
though regarded by the Shinies as usurpers and 
enemies ot 'Ah, were admittedly companions of the 
Prophet (Maq. ii. 288). 

This was followed by an order strictly forbidding any 
persons to curse the u Companions, 1 * and before long 
several persons were punished fur this offence. One 
day Hakim saw sutfh curses written up on a public inn, 
no doubt so written at the time wlicn he had commanded 
the putting up of inscriptions of this sort. These he 
ordered to be eflaced and Mint oflicials through the 
streets reading out an order that all such inscriptions on 
inns, shops, streets, etc. must be remo\ f ed, and great 
care was taken lo see that the older wiis carried out. 
All this was a bid for popularity with the orthodox, 
and this year he made a further bid by assigning 
property for the support of the indigent, and for the 
doctors in 1 the various mosques and the muez/ins. 

It was in Ramadan of 403 that Hakim showed the 
zenith of his passing 1 orthodoxy. Kach Friday during 
this month he attended the Mosque of Rnshida clad 
simply, with a turban without jewel and having a sword 
adorned only \vilh bands of silver, and himself led the 
public prayers. During his progress to and from the 
mosque any person who desired to do so was free to 
approach him, and ho took the memoranda and peti- 
tions which they presented him, conversing with the 
petitioners. On Friday the loth he did thus, clothed 
plainly in a garment of white wool and riding to the 
mosque on an ass. On the 27^1 of Ramadan he went 
to the Old Mosque and made there the khutba and led 
the Friday praver, a thing whirh no Fatimid had done 
before, This visit was made without any display; 
there was no cortfcge or led horses, save only ten horses 
whose saddles and bridles were plainly adorned with 
silver; over his head was borne a plain white parasol 
without the usual gold fringe ; there was no jewel in his 
turban, and the pulpit in the mosque was without 


hangings. The same simplicity was observed at the 
Feast of Sacrifice, at which the victims were slain by 
the heir, 'Abdu r-Rahim (Maq. ri. 288). The cere- 
monial thus observed at the close of Ramadan was to 
a large extent of Shi'ite origin, but it was a concession 
to the feelings of the people that the Old Mosque was 
used. It will be remembered that it was during this 
month that Hakim presented the great tannur to the 
same mosque. 

The persecution of Christians and Jews continued, 
and even became more severe, during this year (404). 
The order that Christians should wear black robes and 
turbans was renewed ; they had to bear crosses of wood 
a yard long and a yard wide, and to carry them so 
that they could be seen. This was done to many 
Christians wearing small crosses as ornaments, and 
often carrying them beneath the outer garment. Jews 
received similar orders as to the billets of wood which 
served as their distinctive badge. According to Severus 
both cross and billet had to be marked with a lead seal 
bearing the Khalif 's name : this no doubt means that 
those of the proper size and material received this seal 
as a mark that they were approved. Both Christianas 
and Jews were forbidden to ride horses; the mules and 
asses which they used must have plain saddles of wood 
and stirrups of sycamore wood without any ornament. 
Neither were allowed to have Muslim servants or to 
buy a slave of either sex. Muslim owners of riding 
animals were forbidden to let on hire to Christians or 
Jews, and Muslim sailors similarly were forbidden to 
take them in their boats. Both Christians and Jews 
were forbidden to wear rings on their right hand. All 
these orders were proclaimed in the streets of Fustat 
and Kahira, and great pams were taken to see that they 
were rigorously enforced. Many Christians turned 
Muslim in order to avoid these vexations (Maq. loc. cit.). 

It is not easy to date precisely all the anti-Christian 
and anti-Jewish legislation. It is certain that it com- 
menced in 393 and came to an end in 405, that for the 
most part it increased in severity up to 403, and then 
slightly relaxed, but there are various divergences of 
detail in the accounts as to the actual orders enforced 
in each of the intervening years. 

De Sacy thinks that it was about this time (404) that 


the conference of the Christians and Jews with Hakim 
to which reference is made in the books of the Druses, 
took place. One day as the Khalif was walking at 
Karafa, in the cemetery Kibab attair, a band of repre- 
sentatives of the two persecuted religions waited upon 
him. He permitted them to speak with him and 
assured them that they might talk freely without fear, 
They pointed out to him that his conduct towards them 
was very different from that of the Prophet and of his 
early successors; they asked how he could justify his 
policy which was so opposed to the compacts which had 
been made with them. Hakim asked them to retire 
and meet him again in the same place the following 
night, to bring their learned men with them, and 
assured them again of his protection under which they 
might speak freely. Next night Hakim relates to them 
the conferences which the Prophet had with Christians 
and Jews in bis day, conferences which were designed 
1o bring about their conversion but which failed in this 
result; for four hundred years Islam has been avail- 
able, and the reasons brought forward by the Prophet 
had been under consideration : now you are offered the 
choice of Islam again after all this delay, if you do not 
now accept the punishment can be no longer postponed. 
The representatives admit the truth of this and retire 
from Hakim's presence. It is very doubtful, however, 
whether we can regard this description as given in the 
sacred books of the Druses as in any way belonging to 
serious history. 

The Khalif this year gave permission to the 
Christians who wished to do so to emigrate to the land 
of the Greeks, or to Nubia, or Abyssinia, permission 
which had previously not been conceded, and many did 
thus emigrate. De Sacy connects the incident which 
we have related above with this permission to emigrate- 

Although Hakim had been, and still continued* 
devoted to the study of astrology, he now made a decree 
against the astrologers who are to be banished. Many 
of these astrologers went to the Qadi and entered into 
a solemn undertaking not to practise their art, and on 
the strength of this promise were allowed to rem'ain. 
Maqrizi notes it as a strange thing that after this decree 
one could no longer see astrologers in the streets* 
Perquisition was made and any of these found were 


brought before the Qadi and expelled from the country. 
The same treatment was meted out to professional 
musicians (Maq. ii. 288, Ibn Khali, iii. 450). 

A general report began to circulate in the course of 
this year that Hakim intended to have a great massacre 
of many people, and the report, though vague, was 
readily believed, with the result that multitudes fled 
from Cairo, so that the markets were suspended and all 
business came to an end for the time (Maq. a. 288). 

On the 1 2th of Rabi' I. 'Abdu r-Rahim, who had 
killed the victims at the preceding Feast of Sacrifice 
and was a great grandson of the Mahdi who had been 
the first Fatimid Khalif, was publicly declared heir to 
the throne to the exclusion of the Khalif's infant son. 
Orders were given thai he was to be saluted in the 
form: " Hail to the cousin of the Com'mander of the 
faithful, the designated successor of the sovereign of 
the Muslims.*' His name was placed on the coinage, 
he received apartments m the royal palace, his name 
was inserted in the khutba, and he acted as the Khalif's 
deputy in all business of state. Business was at this 
time little regarded by Hakim, who spent much of his 
time riding about in the city and in the country round, 
sometimes by day, often also by night. 

In the following month he cut off the hands of the 
Ka'id's secretary, Abu 1-Kasim Jarjarai. This secre- 
tary had been in the service of the Princess Hakim's 
sister, but fearing that this was a dangerous place had 
left her for the service of the Ka'id. The Princess 
desired to know the reason of this change, and the 
secretary sent her a letter in which he made reference 
to a certain matter which he had discovered, probably 
Hakim's intention to change the succession and this 
letter the Princess, fearing a trap, showed to the 
Khalif, at which he was very greatly annoyed. 'Ayn 
had been Ka'id (Commander-in-Chief) since 402, and 
had had one of his hands cut off in 401, and now on the 
3rd of Jum'ada I. Hakim cut off his remaining hand, 
after which he sent him a present of 5,000 pieces of 
gold and 25 horses; on the I3th of the same month he 
had his tongue cut out and then sent other gifts, but 
after this the Ka'id died. Very many were put to dearth 
about this time, for the Khalif seemed to be suffering 


from an insane impulse to torture and slay; so great 
was the alarm that many fled from the city. 

Since 400 the Khahf had been showing favour to the 
orthodox, but in the course of this year he changed his 
attitude, ceased to make gifts to the mosques, to the 
muezzins, doctors, etc., and disbanded the college 
which he had founded for teaching the Mahkite canon 
law. More than this he treated the lecturers with great 
severity, and put to death Abu Bakr Antaki, the 
principal, and one of his assislanls. 

Either in this year or in 405 Hakim made very strict 
rules about women. He forbade them to go about the 
streets at all. The baths used by women were closed; 
boot-makers were forbidden to make outdoor boots for 
women, and so some of the boot-makers' shops were 
closed entirely. Women were forbidden to look out of 
doors or windows, or to go out on terraces. These 
laws continued in force until the close of the reign. A 
case occurred in which some old wom'en who lived, bv 
spinning and selling their work to the merchants were 
neither able to dispose of it to their customers nor go 
out to buy provisions, and remained inside until their 
bodies, which showed that they had died of starvation, 
were found by the neighbours. When this was 
reported to the Khalif he conceded thai mei chants who 
bought or sold with womn might #o to the doors of 
their houses and the women might pnss out goods or 
money and receive its exchange, provider! they did not 
show their fares or hands to the merchant or any 
passer-by in the street. 

One day Hakim was passing the "Golden Flailis " 
and heard a great deal of noise within. On making 
enquiry he found that there were women inside. He 
ordered the doors and windows to be wnllod up and left 
the inmates to perish of hunger. The pretext given for 
these new regulations wns the Hbertinnge of the 
Egyptian women. Hakim employed many harim' spies, 
and by means of these old women he heard of various 
assignations and intrigues. On several occasions he 
sent a eunuch with a guard of soldiers to wait in con- 
cealment at the place of assignation and when the 
woman appeared had her seized and thrown into the 
Nile. On other occasions he sent guards to private 
houses to demand by name women whose conduct had 


been unfavourably reported, and they were disposed of 
in the same manner. It seems almost impossible to 
excuse Hakim's conduct at this period by the sup- 
position that he was an earnest but fanatical puritan : 
the frequency of new regulations, Che constant changes 
in so many details, and the capricious character of his 
conduct all tend to make the theory of so many con- 
temporaries that he was insane the more plausible. 

In Syria the prestige of Egypt increased. Mansur, 
the son of Lu'lu' at Aleppo, had to ask Hakim's help 
against Abu 1-Hayja, the grandson of Sayf ad-Dawla, 
and this was given. In Ramadan of this year (404) 
Hakim issued a charter granting to Mansur Aleppo and 
its dependencies which were thus held as tributary to 

Early in 405 the Chief Qadi, Malik b. Sa'id al-Faraki, 
was put to death after holding office for six years, nine 
months and ten days. His income was estimated at 
15,000 pieces of gold. In Jumada the chief minister, 
Husayn b. Taher, was put to death and replaced by the 
two brothers, 'Abdu r-Rahim and Husayn, sons of Abu 
Sa'id. After holding office for sixty-two days they 
were put to death and replaced by Fadl b. Ja'far, who 
held office only five days and was put to death ; then 
*Ali b. Ja'far b. Fallah. Maqrizi mentions no other 
holder, but it does not follow that 'AH held the post 
to the end of the reign as, for some reason, he omits all 
mention of Hakim's later years: no doubt the reason 
is to be found in his> unwillingness lo treat the closing 
phase of Hakim's strange career, and to these last years 
he makes no reference in any part of his work. 

The Chief Qadi was replaced by Ahmad b. Mu'ham- 
irtad ibn Abi 1-Awwam, who retained his office until 
413, the year following the close of Hakim's reign. 

Hakim now increased his habit of riding out. He 
began to use asses in preference to horses, and went 
out clothed plainly in black, wearing on his head a 
little linen cap without a turban. Orders were given 
that wthen he went out the officials were to remain in 
their offices and not form an escort as had been the 
custom. As the year went on he went out more and 
more frequently until he was usually out six or seven 
times a day, sometimes riding on his ass, sometimes 
borne in a litter, and sometimes going in a boat on the 


Nile. He became more lavish than ever with his gifts, 
and presented estates to the owners of boats, to subor- 
dinate officials of various kinds, and to the Arab 
tribesmen of the B. Qorra. Amongst the gifts he made 
to these latter was the overlordship of the city of 
Alexandria and its suburbs. 

In Syria Saktekin Shams ad-Dawla was made 
governor of Damascus, and this office he held until 
408. He was a tyrannical and cruel man. Towards the 
end of his career he built the " New Bridge " below the 
citadel at Damascus, intending himself to be the first 
to cross it. One day when it was nearmg completion 
he saw a horseman riding across the bridge. In great 
anger he sends down a messenger to arrest him. But 
the strange horseman turned out to be a messenger 
from Egypt with orders for his deposition from office. 

At Aleppo Murtada ad-Dawla raised up many 
enemies. The Arabs of the B. Kalab tribe took up 
arms against him ; he pretended to agree to their terms 
and invited them into the city to a feast : as soon as 
they entered he had the gates shut, arrested the chief 
men, and slew about one thousand. This took place in 
402* Salih b. Merdas, one of the chief men who had 
been imprisoned, filed through his irons and escaped 
in this year, 405. When he is at large he ravages the 
whole country, and when Murtada goes out to check 
him he is himself taken prisoner by the Arab. Salih, 
however, really desired peace, and agreed to liberate 
Murtada for a ransom of 15,000 pieces of gold, 120,000 
pounds of silver, and 500 pieces of stuff, the freedom of 
tihe women and others of his tribe who were still in 
prison, the equal division of the towns and lands of 
Aleppo between himself and Murtada, and the gift of 
Murtada*s daughter in marriage. These extraordinary 
conditions were granted and Murtada was set free. 
But then he proved unwilling to divide the lands and 
towns of his principality or to give his daughter in 
marriage, so Salih makes war again and blockades 
Aleppo and starves it into unconditional surrender. 

In 406 a quarrel sprung up between Murtada and 
Fatah Kalai who was the governor of the citadel. 
Murtada considered that he had been instrumental in 
fomenting Salih's rebellion. Finally Fatah openly 
revolted against Murtada and sent him the message, 


" Go out of Aleppo, or I give the citadel to Salih." 
Soon after this, as Murtada was in his palace near the 
gate Bab al-Jinan, he heard drums and trumpets and 
cried out : Hakim, O Mansur : Sahh, O Mansur, ' 
believing that the citadel was in the hands of the Arab 
chieftain : so greatly was he frightened that, without 
enquiring what was the real cause of the drums and 
trumpets, he fled out of the city with his family and es- 
caped to Anlioch, where he was given an asylum by the 
Greek Emperor. As soon as Fatah heard of his flight 
he proclaimed Hakim as sovereign over Aleppo, made 
terms with Sahh and gave him ihall the revenues of the 
city and its suburbs, and presented to him the ladies 
of Murtada's hanm whom he had not taken with him 
in his flight. Salih sent all Murtada's wives and the 
oUher ladies to Antioch, retaining only Murtada's 
daughter whom 1 he married. 

Fatah wrote an account of these events to Hakim, 
and the Khalif was very well pleased that he was now 
not merely suzerain over the ruler of Aleppo but the 
actual owner of the city. He conierred the title of 
Mubarak ad-Dawla wa^aidha on Fatah* In the follow- 
ing year (407) Hakim wrote to the citizens of Aleppo 
abolishing the imposts and various taxes which had 
been paid. Fatah was given all the goods which had 
belonged to Murtada and was sent as governor to 
Tyre, after (handing over the citadel of Aleppo to 
the Emir 'Aziz ad-Dawla f an Armenian slave who 
had belonged to Maimtakin. On, this slave Hakim 
conferred the title Emir uLUmara or "Supreme 
Prince," and presented him with a pelisse of honour, 
several horses with harness adorned with gold, and a 
sword of state. Later on the Emir revolted against 

Meanwhile very curious events were taking place in 
Egypt- In the course of 407 (though al-Maqin says 
408), a Persian da'i named Muhammad b Isma'il Darazi 
arrived in Egypt, a Batinite who believed in the trans- 
migration of souls, and hoped to find at the Fatimid 
court a congenial atmosphere for his mystic creed. He 
attached himself to the Khalif, over whom he soon 
began to have great influence, and from whom he 
received many gifts and favours. In due course he 
succeeded in persuading the prince that he was an in- 


carnation of the deity, and wrote a book in which he 
taught that the Divine Spirit which God had breathed 
into Adam had passed on in due succession from 
prophet to prophet, through the Imam 'Ah, until at 
length it found its abode in the Imam Hakim. So great 
was his influence over the Khahf that much of the 
public business was given into his hands, and all who 
desired to approach the Khalif had to pay court to the 
da'i. The heir elect seems to have fallen into disfavour 
about this time. He was sent away from Cairo but 
given the important post of governor of Damascus. 
After he had been in Syria for some time he, was sud- 
denly attacked by a band of men who, after slaying 
several of his companions, put him in a box and carried 
him to Egypt. There he was released and, a little 
later, was sent back to Damascus. No explanation of 
this strange event is suggested, but it was generally 
believed that (he was thus treated by the Khalif J s orders. 
Amongst some of the more advanced Shi'ites many 
were found to follow the new doctrines of Darazi, and 
the da'i accompanied by a band of followers went down 
to the Old Mosque where he read from the boot he 
had written. According to an account given by al- 
Masin a Turk, shocked at the blasphemies whidh 
occurred in this reading, fell upon Darazi and killed 
him, after which his house was pillaged, and a tumult 
followed which lasted for three days. The Turk was 
arrested and put in prison, and was then brought to 
trial on another charge for which he was executed. For 
a long time the lurk's grave was visited by the 
orthodox who regarded him as a martyr. But this 
account is not strictly correct, for Darazi was not killed 
at that time. According to Abu 1-Mahsin, the most 
weighty authority, Hakim 1 did not openly endorse 
Darazi 's teaching,- when the tumult arose in the 
mosque Darazi escaped and received money from 
Hakim, and with this retired to Syria where he 
preached in the mountainous parts where the people 
were very ignorant, and amongst them he obtained 
many disciples and founded a sect, the Druses, which 
still exists in the Lebanon. In religion these Druses 
hold a kind of pantheism, which in many respects 
verges upon agnosticism, but has a pure morality, in 
spite of the many charges which nave been made 



against this as against every other religion which keeps 
its creed a secret from the outside world. 

About the same time, or perhaps a little after, a 
Persian from' Farghana named Hasan al-Akhram, also 
appears as using his influence to persuade Hakim of 
his deity, or to develop the ideas which Darazi had 
already instilled into him. This man formed a party 
on the conventional lines of the extremer Shi'ites, 
entirely discarding all the traditional observances of the 
Muslim religion. One day he went with a hand of 
fifty followers to the Old Mosque, where he found the 
Qadi sitting and hearing cases. After treating the by- 
standers roughly, they present a question to the Qadi, 
beginning their words with the form " In the name 
of Hakim, the merciful, the compassionate/ 1 applying 
to him the terms usually applied to God. The Qadi 
raised his voice and protests against this with great 
indignation. The people were so angry at the blas- 
phemy that they fell upon Akhram and his followers : 
of the latter several were killed, but Akhram escaped. 

The most famous of these du'at, who at this time 
advocated the deification of Hakim 1 , was Hamza b. *Ali 
b. Ahmad Hadi, a native of Zawzan in Persia. The 
Druses regard him as their founder, and date their 
years from the " Era of Hamza," which is placed in 
A.H. 408. It seems that his teaching was earlier than 
that of Ahmad the Qadi (405), and so probably he was 
in private conference with Hakim from somewhere 
about 405 until he made public declaration of his 
doctrine in 408. He dwelt in the Mosque of Bir at 
Mantarea, originally the tomb of an 'Alid who had 
been put to death in 145, afterwards known as the 
Mosque of Tibr after a minister who served under 
Kafur, and was one of those who had tried to resist the 
entry of Jawhar. He preached and invited the people 
to accept the teaching already expounded by Darazi, 
and sent out missionaries of his doctrines to various 

Sarts of Egypt and Syria. Hakim was greatly in- 
uenced by Hamza, and was induced by him to discard 
all the outward observances of Islam, ceasing to visit 
the mosques, or to take part in prayer. Under the 
pretext that the Arabs were a danger to travellers he 
suppressed the pilgrimage to Mecca and ceased to send 
the veil to the *' House of God,*' all of which caused 


great disgust to the orthodox. Hamza and twelve of 
his disciples, the traditional number of the Shi'ile 
nakibs, were in constant attendance on Hakim. It 
seems that Ham'za was the real founder and teacher of 
Hakim's deity, and that Darazi was one of his converts. 
But the details of the formation of this sectarian 
development during the years 405-408 are full of 
obscurities : it does not seem safe to follow the sacred 
books of the Druses who idealised the whole matter. 
We do not find ourselves on solid ground until 408, 
when the claims of Hakim to deity were publicly pro- 
claimed and admitted by the Khalif himself. It is 
said (by Severus) tihat Hakim claimed to have a know- 
ledge of secret things, and tried to support this claim 
by evidence which he gleaned from his spies* But 
Severus * evidence must be regarded with some sus- 
picion : a Syrian Christian Ihe heard ot the events in 
Egypt only at second hand, and is very obviously 
influenced by strong prejudices. lie refers to this 
claimed om'niscience of Hakim the incident of the letter 
which read : " We have endured injustice and tyranny, 
but we are not willing to endure impiety and folly. If 
Ihou knowest hidden things, say the name of him who 
wrote this letter," an incident which seems to belong to 
the early days of the Khalif al-Mahdi in Kairawan. 
Severus further tells us that when Hakim's name was 
mentioned in the khutba all present rose out of respect ; 
but in Fustat the people made a prostration at this 
name. He is referring, no doubt, to reported conduct 
of Hamza's followers. He says further that there were 
some people who, when Hakim appeared in the streets, 
used to prostrate themselves on the ground and cry out : 
" O thou only one, thou alone, thou who givest life 
and death n : this is exactly what might be expected 
of the extremer Shi'ites, and is in no way incredible. 
At this time all persecution of Christians and Jews 
entirely ceased; obviously the Khalif no longer 
regarded Islam 1 as in any way superior to those otner 
religions. Persons who had turned Muslims were per- 
mitted to return to their former beliefs contrary to 
Muslim law they were protected from all punishment, 
but it is obvious that at this juncture Muslim) law was 
not in any sense observed in the Fatimid state. Severus 
tells us that some Christians and Jews came to the 


Khalif and said: " JMy God, I desire to return to my 
former religion " : and Hakim replied : " Do as seems 
good to you." According to flhe books of the Druses : 

Although it is a precept to make war with the un- 
believers, our lord has abolished this precept so far as 
concerns Jews and Christians." The Druses refer this 
to the era of Hamza, i.e., 408 A.H., but Severus puts 
it in the year 736 of the " era of the Martyrs," that is 
A.H 411, tihe closing year of Hakim's reign, and dates 
the beginning of the persecution of Christians from' 
402, taking the destruction of the great Church in 
Jerusalem as the beginning of the persecution, that is 
to say, the beginning of the time when active steps were 
taken which readied to Syria as well as Egypt, and in 
this agrees with Abu 1-Mahisin, but Maqrizi puts the 
destruction of the Church of the Resurrection in 400 so 
that the end of the persecution, which lasted nine years, 
would come in 408-409, when Hakim had assented to 
the public declaration of his deity which seems to be 
the more probable date. 

Towards the end of the nine years of persecution it 
was reported to Hakim that some converts from 
Christianity had been celebrating the rites of their 
former religion privately in houses, but he took no steps 
to punish them, and this emboldens others to do like- 
wise. If this was so it would seem that there was no 
formal decree of toleration but simply that the penal 
regulations were permitted to sink into oblivion. Then 
some attended on the Khalif and asked permission to 
revert to their former religion. Hakim asked where 
were their girdles, crosses, and other badges? they 
produced them' from under their clothes. The Khalif 
made no rebuke but told them that they could do as 
they pleased, and sent them with an attendant to the 
office where they obtained letters of protection. After 
this many unwilling; converts did the same, until most 
of those who had changed their religion from fear had 
returned to their former faith. 

The monk Yamin next procured the exiled Patriarch 
Zadharias an interview with the Khalif, which took 
place in the monastery of St. Mercurius at Sahran. In 
the course of this interview Hakim gave permission to 
the Christians to ro-open their churches, to restore 
those which had been destroyed, to recover building' 


material removed at the time when churches were being 
demolished, and to regain possession of gardens and 

Property attached to the churches and monasteries, 
he Christians were no longer required to wear dis- 
tinctive badges, or rather the disuse of those badges 
was tacitly condoned, and were allowed 1 to sound bells. 
Ibn Khallikan refers this toleration to 411, which 
agrees with Severus and with Bar Hebraeus, who 
speaks of this change as taking place shortly before 
Hakim' was killed, and adds that at this time many of 
the Christians who had gone abroad returned to Egypt. 
Probably breaches of the persecuting laws began to be 
condoned in 408 or soon after, and these increased 
gradually as it was seen that they could be made with 

Meanwhile the extremes to which the followers of 
Hamza were prepared to go also increased. Some of 
the courtiers on entering the Khalif s presence saluted 
him, " Hail to thee, only and unique one, hail to thee 
who givest life and death, who bestowest wealth and 
poverty," Having in view the peculiar religious 
tendencies of the extremer Shi'ite seels, it must not 
surprise us that there were some apparently sincere in 
their acceptation of the divine character of the Imam, 
although the bulk of the people remained sober and 
orthodox Muslims. One of the adherents of Hamza's 
doctrines who was at Mecca struck his lance on the 
sacred Black Stone and said : " Why, O foolish ones, 
do you adore and kiss that which cannot be of any use 
to you nor injure you, whilst you neglect him who is 
in Egypt, who giveth life and death?" 

Ibn Khallikan tells us that one day a Qur'an reader 
was reading at court the verse : " And they will not 
I swear by the Lord they will not believe, until they 
have set thee up as judge between them on points where 
they differ " (Qur. iv. 68), pointing the while towards 
the Khalif. Ibn al-Mushajjar, a devout man) who was 
present, then recited the verse : " O men, a parable 
is set forth to you, wherefore hearken to it. Verily, 
they on whom 1 ye call beside God, cannot create a fly, 
though they assemble for it; and if the fly carry off 
aught from them, they cannot take it away from it. 
Weak the suppliant and the supplicated " (Qur. xxii. 
72). At this the Khalif changed countenance; to Ibn 


al-Mushajjar (he presented 100 dinars, to the reader he 
gave nothing. But afterwards a friend said to Ibn 
Mushajjar : " You know al-Hakim's character, and are 
aware of his frequent prevarications : take heed lest he 
conceive a hatred for you and punish you later. You 
would then have much to suffer from him. My advice 
is that you get out of his sight." Ibn al-Mushajjar 
took this advice seriously and set out on the pilgrimage 
to Mecca, but was ship-wrecked and drowned. 

The years 408 to 411 were entirely abnormal in the 
history of Egypt. It has been suggested that the 
entire change in Hakim's conduct during these years 
was due to his being now initiated into the (higher 
grades of the Isma'ilian sect, and thus he was now 
disposed to disregard all forms of religion. But it 
seems to be very dubious how far the regular Isma'ilian 
system had remained in vigour in Fatimid Egypt. The 
state was professedly Shi'ite, the Chief Da'i held the 
regular conferences required by the rules of the brother- 
hood, and undoubtedly initiates were admitted : but 
since the sojourn in Egypt it rather seems that the sect 
as a religious organization had greatly weakened, save 
in the one respect that it was regarded with loyalty by 
the extremer Shi'ites in Persia, and that from Persia 
more especially there was a constant stream of pilgrims, 
enthusiastic sectaries whose enthusiasm was, if any- 
thing, a source of embarrassment to the Egyptian 
government, whose interests were now plainly political. 
Hamza, Darazi, and, later on, the originators of the 
sect of Assassins, were all Persian Shi'ites who came to 
visit Egypt- It seems more probable that Hakim's 
new attitude was entirely due to the influence of these 
Persian visitors. 

In the year 409 Hakim was riding in the streets and 
saw what he supposed to be a woman standing in the 
street, a plain breach of the regulations in force. At 
once Hakim rode over to her and found that she was 
holding out a petition in her hand. He ordered one of 
his attendants to take the paper and arrest the woman. 
Wlhen they laid hands on her it turned out that it was 
only a guy of paper, and the document she held out 
was full of charges against the chastity of the Princess 
Hakim's sister. Hakim went home in a towering rage. 
He abused his sister for giving ground for such re- 


flections to be made on her honour, and spoke to her 
many harsh words. More than once before this he 
had treated her harshly when she had ventured to 
remonstrate with him on his various cruelties, but this 
was an attack graver than he (had ever made previously. 
Next day Hakim turned loose his mercenaries, Arabs, 
Berbers, Greeks, and negroes, upon the city. For 
three days they broke open houses, pillaged, slew those 
who resisted them, violated women, and carried off 
maidens of the best families, and burned a great part 
of Fustat. Each day Hakim rode out to the cemetery 
of Karafa and looked down on the suffering city. Many 
of the citizens came around him to implore mercy, but 
he remained unmoved and gave no sign of hearing 
them. On the fourth day the Sherifs assembled in the 
mosques lifting Qur'ans to heaven and implored divine 
assistance. So piteous was the condition of the people 
that many of the Turkish guards were moved and took 
their part, and in this they were soon joined by the 
Berbers, both doing their best to restrain the bestial 
ferocity of the negroes, until the whole place was raging 
in civil war. At length some of the Turks went to 
Hakim, and in no measured terms called on him to 
interfere and stop this terrible state of affairs. Hakim 
replied quite cooly deploring the excesses of the 
soldiery, and agreeing with the Turks that il ougfot to 
be stopped. He then rode down into the city on his 
ass and stopped the conflict. After thai he called the 
Turks and Berbers round him, expressed the greatest 
regret for the suffering which the city had had to under- 
go, protested that he did not at all desire such an un- 
happy event, and that it could not be avoided, and 
published a general amnesty. As soon as things 
settled down it was found that about a third of the city 
had been burned, and about a half pillaged. The 
citizens had much trouble in recovering their ravished 
wives, daughters, and sisters, most of whom, had been 
dishonoured by the negro soldiers. Some of the women 
had committed suicide to avoid this shame. Many of 
the citizens went to Hakim and asked him 1 to get back 
their women for them. Hakim told them to ransom 
them from their captors and promised to reinbursbe any 
sums Which were laid out in this manner. One of the 
townsmen reproached him very harshly for this great 


disgrace to a Muslim community, and expressed the 
hope that the women of the Khalif s own family would 
suffer the same as their wives and daughters. Hakim 
bore this reproach patiently and made a mild reply. 

Although this atrocious deed had made Hakim feel 
that he had revenged himself on those who had reflected 
on his sister, he had by no means forgiven her. After 
upbraiding her in no measured terms he informed her 
that he would send some women to examine her and 
find if she really were a virgin or not, The Asiatic 
historians who make most reference to the Princess 
describe her as a woman of the noblest character and 
of the highest chastity, and represent this as a deliberate 
and insane insult offered by her brother. It is not at 
all clear that this is a true estimate, Later on we find 
her as a woman of undoubted ability, but unscrupulous 
character. At the same time it is extremely probable 
that the members of Hakim's family (had graver 
reasons for alarm than anyone else, if indeed it be true 
that he was now showing plain signs of a disordered 
bram. At any rate when Hakim made this threat' she 
was greatly alarmed ; it may be that she feared such an 
examination, or it may be that she deeply resented tihe 
insult, In her alarm she went to Yusuf b. Dawwas 
ad-Dawla. Although one of the great nobles of Egypt 
Yusuf abstained from' attending the court and had so 
abstained for some time, being thoroughly alarmed at 
Hakim's conduct, and was careful to meet the Khalif 
only at public functions which ihe could not avoid. One 
time Hakim at such a parade asked him to visit him in 
his palace, but Yusuf did not make the desired visit. 
The next time they met in public Hakim reproached 
him for this, and Yusuf replied plainly that he would 
rather not go to the palace; if Hakim had any evil 
intention towards him he would rather wait at home to 
be summoned to death than to go to the palace, be 
killed there, and thrown to the dogs. At this reply 
Hakim only kughed, but Yusuf had serious fears that 
sooner or later the Khalif would have his revenge, and 
probably a cruel one. 

The Princess sent to Yusuf and asked for an inter- 
view with him at night. This was arranged and she 
went to Yusuf 's house and explained to him the great 
dangers threatening them both. The best thing to do 


would be to arrange Hakim's death : " You,' 1 she said, 
11 will be made general of the armies, minister of the 
empire, and guardian of the young prince. I shall live 
quietly in my palace as befits my sex and take no part 
in business. 11 Some reports say that she also promised 
to marry Yusuf . To all this Yusuf agreed. She asked 
him to supply two absolutely trusty men, and these he 
provides. A plan of assassination was agreed upon, 
and the two cut-throats were presented by her with a 
Maghrabi dagger each. With reference to this account, 
which is given by Bar Hebraeus, and outlined by al- 
Makini, Maqrizi says : " No credit should be given to 
what the Asiatic writers say in their books, that this 
prince perished by the plots of ihis sister. But God 
alone knows the whole truth " (Maq. ii. 289). It is 
important to note that Severus of Ashmunayn, who 
wrote only thirty years after these events, makes no 
mention of the Princess in this connection, though his 
tendency is to repeat all gossip unfavourable to the 
Fatimids : he simply states that the details of Hakim's 
disappearance were unknown. 

According to Ibn Khallikan, Hakim went out late in 
the night of 27th Shawal 411, and spent the whole 
night going about on the Mokattam hill. At daybreak 
he was near the tomb of Fokkai, and thence went east 
to Hulwan, about five miles from Cairo, accompanied 
by two attendants. He then met a company of Arabs, 
nine in number, who had a request to make of him. 
He told them to go to the palace, and sent one of his 
attendants with them. For some time he continued 
with the second attendant, then told (him to go back 
also. At that time he was still near the tomb of Fokkai - 
The second attendant returned to the palace and left 
the Khalif alone on Mokattam. Next morning he did 
not return, and for three days no sign of him was seen ; 
then, on Sunday, the and of Dfau 1-Za'da, the eunuch 
Nesim, who was the chamberlain, and a number of 
other officials, went out on the hills to make a search. 
At length they reached the monastery known as Dayr 
al-Kosayr, and near there they found Hakim's ass with 
its saddle on but its legs hacked off. Following the 
footsteps of the ass, which were accompanied by the 
footprints of two men they came to a hollow where 
they found the Khalif 's clothes wioh marks of cuts, but 


the buttons not undone. No body was ever found. It 
was assumed that Hakim had been murdered, and! that 
his arms had been cut off before the clothes were 
removed. After the discovery of the ass and of the 
clothes had been reported, the Princess considered it 
expedient to have Hakim's infant son proclaimed 
Khalif, thus avoiding the claims of 'Abdu r-Rahim, the 
heir designated by Hakim, and it seems that the main 
evidence for her supposed complicity with the murder 
rests on this act which assumed that he must be dead, 
though it is difficult to see how she could have acted 
differently under the circumstances. 

Al-Mahism is reported as saying that Hakim went 
out, and that after sending back Nesim and his squire, 
he had as companions only a page and young slave : 
at the time he was filled with apprehensions as he knew 
from his horoscope that the night was one of greot 
peril to him. When he was on Mokattam he said : 
" We belong to God and return him >f : then clapping 
his hands together he added, " Thou hast appeared 
then, O dismal sign," referring to the star whose 
appearance he took as the warning of his death. Going 
along the hillside he met ten men of the B. Qorra who 
had a request to make to him, and said that they had 
often waited in vain at his palace door. Hakim orders 
them to be paid 10,000 pieces of silver from the treasury, 
and directs his page to go with them and draw Che 
money for them. They objected that it might be that 
the Khalif was angry with them for interrupting his 
walk, and that perhaps the order m the page's nand 
might privately direct that they were to be put to 
punishment, so they requested that he would also give 
them a safe conduct, and this the Khalif gave. Hakim 
and the young slave then go on and enter a valley 
wihere the two m'en sent by Yusuf are lying in ambush. 
They came out and fell upon him just as the day *was 
dawning. At their appearance he cried out, " Wretches, 
what do you want?" They cut off his two arms, open 
his stomach, and tear out the entrails, and wrap the 
body in a robe. They then slew the slave, cut the 
traces of the ass, and carried off the body to Yusuf. 
He took il to the Princess, who made presents to him 
and to the two murderers. She then sent for the wazir, 
revealed to him what had happened, and made him 


promise secrecy. She persuaded him to write to 
'Abdu r-Rahim at Damascus, and at the same time 
sent an officer named 'Ali b. Dawud to Ferma to seize 
'Abdu r-Rahim on his way to Egypt and carry him to 
Tannis ; and also she sent instructions to the governor 
of Tannis. Next day it was observed that Hakim did 
not return. Abu Arus would not allow the gates ot 
Kahira to be opened, stating that the Khalif had 
ordered them to be closed the day before, and no search 
was made until the following day. The Princess had 
conferences with the chiefs of the Katama tribe and 
other leading persons and, with the help of lavish 
presents, induced them to recognise Hakim's son as his 
successor, although they had already given formal 
recognition 1o 'Abdu r-Rahim, On the seventh day 
she dressed the child in rich robes and sent for YuSuf, 
whom she declared to be uslad or guardian. Then the 
child was taken out in state, the wazir proclaimed him 
as Khalif, and he was generally recognised. 

The facts of Hakim's disappearance were never fully 
known. One report, as we have seen, was thai he was 
murdered. Of the murder Maqrizi gives another 
account which exculpates the Princess. He says : 
" Masihi relates that in the year 415 a man of the 
family of Hu'sayn was arrested after raising up re- 
bellion in the southern part of Upper Egypt. This 
man confessed that it was he who had killed Hakim. 
He said that there were four accomplices of the crime, 
and that they afterwards fled to different parts. He 
showed a piece of the skin of Hakim's head and a 
fragment of the piece of cotton with whidh he had been 
clothed. He was asked why he had killed him. He 
replied: "Out of zeal for the glory of God and of 
Islam," Further questioned as to the way in which 
he had committed the crime, he drew out a dagger 
and striking it to his breast he cried, as he fell dead, 
" That is the way I killed him." His head was cut 
off and sent to the Khalif with all that was found in 
him " (Maq. n. 290). 

The Druses of course believe that he disappeared 
like others of the Imams before him, going away in 
sorrow from a world which was not worthy of his pure 
doctrine and that he lives still in concealment to reveal 
himself in due time when the world is ready for him. 


Other persons believed that he had hidden himself 
because he was disgusted at the state of affairs and 
weary of the throne, and was living contentedly in 
obscurity. Bar Hebraeus tells us of a widespread 
belief in Egypt that Hakim had been recognised as a 
Christian monk at Sketis. Severus says that for 
sixteen years there were constant rumours of his return. 
A certain proselyte from Christianity named Sherut 
claimed to be the Khalif and called himself Abu l-'Arab. 
In voice and appearance he very closely resembled 
Hakim and had many followers. About 427 he was in 
Lower Egypt, and a certain Arab who believed in him 
provided him 1 with a tent where he lived for some time. 
Very often he used to give the Arab rich presents of 
clothes and arms, but himself lived in the strictest 
simplicity. At last the government heard of him and 
he fled, after some twenty years personation of the ex- 
Khalif. Abu 1-Feda tells us of a pretender named 
Sikkin who revolted in 434, and was seized and hanged 
(Annal. Moslem iii. 119). De Sacy thinks that this 
Sikkin was the same as the Sherut of Severus. 
Strangely enough every one of these claimants found 
enthusiastic supporters, as though Hakim had been the 
most popular of all the Khalifs of Egypt. 

(A.H 4U^27=A,D. 1021, 1035) 

ON the " Day of Sacrifice," 411, seven days after 
Hakim's disappearance, his son Abu 1-Hasan 'Ali az* 
Zahir li-'izazniini-llah (" the tnum'phant in strengthen- 
ing God's religion "), then a boy of sixteen years of 
age, was recognised as Khalif. The heir designated 
by Hakim, 'Abdu r-Rahim, was still in Damascus, but 
the Princess wrote to him ordering his immediate 
return to Egypt, Instead of obeying this summons he 
declared himself the independent ruler of Damascus, 
and made himself popular amongst the citizens by 
repealing the many vexatious regulations which Hakim 
had put in force. But this popularity did not last long : 
he soon made himself odious by his avarice and grasp- 
ing extortions, and craftily utilising this, and the dis- 
content of the soldiers who did not receive the gratuities 
which they expected, the Princess contrived to gain a 
party of supporters, and by their help had him arrested 
and sent in chains to Egypt where he was imprisoned 
for some four years, then fell ill and died, perhaps 
poisoned, three days before the Princess herself died. 

For the first four years of az-Zahir's reign the whole 
power was in the hands of his aunt, the Princess Royal, 
According to Ibn Khallikan the Princess sent for 
Yusuf b. Dawwas, the noble who the Syrian writers 
describe as haying conspired with her to arrange the 
murder of Hakim, and made him' a present of a hundred 
slaves. After the wazir had gone home she sent the 
eunuch Nesim after these slaves, and conveyed her 
orders to them that it was their duty to slay Yusuf, as 
'be was the person responsible for the late Khalif's 
assassination. In consequence of this Yusuf was put 
to death. Soon afterwards the Princess contrived the 


death of two of the wazirs who succeeded him, and 
throughout the whole four years of her rule she showed 
herself cruel and vindictive. She died in 416, and the 
chief control then passed into the hands of a committee 
of three sheikhs who paid a daily visit to the Khalif, 
Jbut excluded him from all participation in the adminis- 

The year of the Princess 1 death saw the beginning of 
a terrible famine in Egypt as the result of a series of 
bad Niles, and the resultant distress lasted all through 
416 and 417. In many cases the starving villages took 
to brigandage, an evil to which the country is always 
more or less exposed. Sometimes outbreaks are due, 
as in this case, to dire distress and consequent reckless- 
ness; sometimes it means the revival of ancient feuds 
between village and village, or familv and family, so 
that it is no more than an outlet for intermittent inter- 
tribal feuds and private quarrels between villages or 
families; but in time of distress these become more 
acrimonious and turn against strangers and travellers. 
Even the pilgrims on their way through Egypt were 
attacked. Regulations were passed to prevent the 
slaughter of cattle for fear that they would be exter- 
minated altogether; camels were scaice as m'any were 
killed because it was impossible to provide them with 
food, and poultry could hardly be procured. Crowds 
assembled before the palace crying, " Hunger, hunger. 
O Commander of the faithful, it was not thus under 
thy fatJher and grandfather. 11 Then the slaves, starving 
and miserable, revolted and swelled the numbers of 
brigands on the roads. In many places the citizens 
formed themselves into " Committees of safety," and 
the government allowed them to arm and slay revolted 
slaves in self defence. The state treasury was prac- 
tically em'pty, for it was impossible to collect taxes, 
and even the palace slaves and officials were in a 
starving condition. The misery reached its height in 
418 when 'Ali b. Ahmad al-Jarjarai, the same whose 
hands had been cut off by Hakim, was appointed 
wazir, As the year began (in the early part of 
February) the conditions were such that barricades were 
erected across the streets of Cairo to keep out the 
brigands and slaves, and the wazir himself was for 
some time a prisoner in his official palace. Later in the 


year, however, there was a good inundation, and this 
restored plenty, so that in 419 the country was once 
more under normal conditions and order was restored. 
A curious event of 416 was a persecution of the 
Mahkite school of jurists. At that time the Maliki 
system was the prevailing school of thought in orthodox 
Egypt, though now it is for the most part confined to 

Upper Egypt, the Shafi'i system replacing it in Lower 
Egypt. Neither of these, of course, was acceptable to 
the Shi'ites, who demanded that the problems of canon 

law should be treated according to the teaching of 
Ja'far as-Sadiq (cf. p. 96 above). Hakim had, in 400, 
founded and endowed a college for instruction in the 
Malikite system, but in 404 it was suppressed and its 
head was put to death. Nothing of this sort was 
attempted now, but all the canonists of the Maliki 
school were banished from Eeypt. No doubt they were 
regarded as leaders of the Sunni element as against 
the Shi'ite Khalifate. 

In 418 when there was every prospect of a return to 
prosperity as the result of an abundant Nile, the Khalif 
was able to make a satisfactory treaty with the Greek 
Emperor, Constantine I IT. It was agreed that the 
Fatimid Khalif should be prayed for in the khutba in 
every mosque in the Byzantine dominions, and per- 
miss'ion was given for the restoration of the mosque at 
Constantinople, which had been destroyed in retaliation 
for the destruction of the Church of the Resurrection 
in Jerusalem; whilst, on the other side, the Khalif 
agreed to permit the rebuilding of the Church at Jeru- 
salem. This freed the Khalifate from one source of 

At the time of az-Zahir's accession the authority of 
the Fatimids was hardly recognised in Syria, but this 
was soon altered by the ability and enterprise of 
Anushtegin ad-Dizbiri, who was the governor of 
(Caesar ea. His first important action was against Salih 
b. Mirdas, the Arab chieftain who had taken Aleppo 
from Murtada and had now established himJself as an 
independent prince. In 420 Anushtakin met him at 
al-Ochuwana, a village near Tiberias, and defeated and 
killed him. He had next to deal with Hasan b. 
Mufarraj, who was once more in revolt. This he did 
so effectually that Hasan was obliged to flee and take 


refuge amongst the Greeks, It is worth noting that 
the old mischief maker, Htftsayn al-Maghrabi, who had 
fled from Egypt in 400, ended a career of great 
vicessitudes in 418. After the failure of the revolt under 
Hakim he had gone to the court of the Daylamite 
prince Baha ad-Dawla, and stayed with his wazir Fakhr 
al-Mulk. But the Khalif of Baghdad suspected him 
of being a Fatimite spy, and ordered Fakhr to get rid 
of him. Fakhr, however, pleaded on his behalf, and at 
length obtained the Khalif 's favour for the fugitive who 
was kindly received in Baghdad. 

During the latter part of az-Zahir's reign Fatimid 
influence had become supreme m Palestine and Syria, 
save only in the few northern districts which rem'ained 
subject to the Greek Empire. It seemed indeed to be 
the triumph of the Fatimids, but the appearance was 
fallacious. The Fatimid Empire in Asia was held 
together only by the genius of Anushtegin, who was 
able to avail himself of the favourable conditions which 
preceded the ereat Turkish storm, which was even then 
gathering in the east. 

It was the policy of the Princess Royal and of the 
committee which held supreme power after her death 
to keep the Kihalif in the background, and exclude him 
from all real part in the work of government, It was 
as well, perhaps, that his freedom was rather circum- 
scribed for, as he grew up, he gave signs of a cruel 
temperam'ent which in some directions surpassed that 
of his father. He was wholly occupied with the pursuit 
of pleasure, finding his interest in the company of 
singing girls, buffoons, and others of like kind, and 
showed no desire to take part in public affairs. In 424 
he invited the palace girls to the number of some 2,660 
to a festival : when they came to the feast they were 
led lo one of the mosques and taken inside ; the doors 
were then bricked up and the unfortunate girls were 
left to starve. For six months the mosque was left 
unopened and the bodies unburied. Many other in- 
stances of wanton cruelty are related of him. 

In 427 as^Zahir fell sick of the plague, and as he 
grew worse he was taken to the "Garden of the Strand" 
at Maqs, then the port of Cairo, where he died on the 
I5th of Shaban, leaving the Khalifate to his son al- 
Mustansir, then a child seven years of age. 



(A.H. 427487=^.0. 10351095) 

ABU Tamin al-Muslansir bi-llah (" the seeker of aid 
from God ") was proclaimed Khalif at his fathers 
death on Sunday, the 15th Shaban, 427 (14 June, 1035), 
His reign has the distinction of being the longest of all 
the Khalifates either in Egypt or elsewhere, 

Again we find the influence of a woman of the royal 
family predominant in the slate, this time of a black 
ex-slave woman. In Cairo there were two Jewish 
merchants, Abu Sa'd Abrahim and his brother Abu 
Nasr Sa'd ad-Dahir, sons of Sahl. The Khalif az- 
Zahir had bought a black Sudani slave girl from Sa'd 
ad-Dahir, and she was the mother of al-Mustansir. 
During the earlier years of the reign the influence 
behind the throne was in the hands of the Sudani Queen 
Mother and her former master, the Jewish slave mer- 
chant, This influence was restrained so long as the 
wazir al-Jarjarai lived, but all check upon it came to an 
end at his death in 436. 

The old faction fights between Turks and Berbers 
had now long passed away. Under Hakim we have 
seen the formation of new parties, Turks and negroes, 
rival groups of mercenaries in the Khalif 's employ; 
the Arabs and Berbers, so far as they were not ab- 
sorbed in the mass of the population, joining with the 
Turks in opposition to the nejjro regiments- The 
Queen Mother, herself a Sudani negress, threw the 
whole weight of her influence on Phe side of the black 

Tne period of al-Jarjarai 's administration was one of 
prosperity in Egypt and, for the most part, of success 
in Syria, Syrian affairs mainly centre round Aleppo 



where Hakim had appointed 'Aziz adrDawla governor 
in 406, but his subsequent conduct was far from 
pleasing to the Khalif. After renewing the fortifica- 
tions and m'aking his own treaty with the Greeks, he 
commenced striking an independent coinage and then 
ceased to pay tribute to Egypt. Indeed, at the time of 
his disappearance Hakim was actually preparing an 
army to send against Aleppo. 'Aziz ad-Dawla, how- 
ever, managed to make peace with az-Zahir and the 
Princess Royal, and nothing of importance transpired 
until his murder in 413 which popular opinion ascribed 
to Badr the governor of the citadel. No doubt Badr 
expected that getting rid of ad-Dawla would leave him 
supreme in the city, but next year he was expelled by 
the Fatirnid government and two entirely independent 
governors were appointed, one for the city, the other 
lor the citadel. 

Within the next few months a formidable rising took 
place in which all the Arab tribes of Syria joined. They 
acted in three bodies, one led by Salih b. Mirdas, who 
thought this a good opportunity of recovering his 
former fief, attacked Aleppo; a second led by the old 
agitator Hasan b. Mufarraj overran Palestine; and a 
third under Sinan moved against Darriascus. The 
Khahf sent his general Anushtakin to deal with these 
revolts, but he received a serious dheck, and Salih, after 
taking possession of Aleppo, passed on to Hims, 
Ba'albek, and Sidon, so that in 416 the Fatimid power 
in Syria had almost passed away. In 420 Anushtakin 
reinforcements had recovered possession of Damascus. 
Advancing against Salih he had an engagement at 
Uqhuwana in which Salih fell, although AsuShtakin 
was not able to press on to Aleppo. The government 
of the city was now divided between Salih's two sons, 
Mu'izz ad-Dawla taking the citadel, his brother Sfaibl 
ad-Dawla holding the city. After a short time, how- 
ever, Shibl ad-Dawla took command of the citadel as 
well, compensating his brother with possessions outside 
the city. After this he commenced a series of successful 
raids against the Greeks, and was able to inflict a defeat 
upon the governor of Antioch. These raids became so 
serious that the Greek Emperor triade an expedition 
against Aleppo, but was defeated by Shibl ad-Dawla 
and forced to retreat. 


When al-Mustansir succeeded to the Fatimid throne 
in 427 Shibl ad-Dawla thought it prudent to conciliate 
him by large gifts of booty won from the Greeks, and 
the Kfaalif confirmed him as governor of Aleppo. Two 
years later Anushtakin considered that the time had 
come to make another attempt on Aleppo, and advanced 
against the city with a large army. Shibl ad-Dawla 
went out against him, and a battle took place near the 
Orontes in the month of Shaban 429, in whidi the 
forces of Aleppo were defeated, Shibl ad-Dawla slain, 
and his brother Mu'izz ad-Dawla compelled to flee. 
After this Mu'izz ad-Dawla went to 'Iraq, leaving 
deputies in charge of Aleppo under whose rule the city 
quickly fell into a state of anarchy, so that Anushtakin 
was able to take possession and appoint his own 
governors, and tihus Aleppo once more became part of 
the Fatimid empire. 

This was the zenith of the Fatimid power in Syria 
and was mainly due to the capacity of Anushtakin, and 
after this the Fatimid Empire began a rapid decline. 
Anushtakin had himself aroused the jealousy and sus- 
picion of the wazir al-Jarjarai, and 'had to meet his most 
serious opposition from the court at Cairo. Ill-advised 
by his wazir, al-Muntasir granted Aleppo as a fief to 
Mu'izz ad-Dawla, and Anushtakin was compelled to 
conduct him to the city to be invested. On the way 
Anushtakin, already ill and much mortified by the 
deliberate destruction of the work he had so efficiently 
executed, died (A.H. 433), and his successor Nasir ad- 
Dawla, whom we shall see afterwards as a sinister 
character in Egypt, placed Mu'izz ad-Dawla in posses- 
sion of the city. 

To survey briefly the subsequent history of Aleppo 
which now ceased to be of primary importance to 
Egyptian history : Mu'izz ad-Dawla was confirmed in 
his appointment by the Khalif in 436, and at the same 
time made good terms with the Greek Empress Theo- 
dora, and with the Saljuk Tughril Beg who was Sultan 
at the court of the 'Abbasid Khalif, In 449 he ex- 
changed Aleppo for Bairut, *Akka, and Juoail, being 
replaced by two Fatimid governors at Aleppo. In 452 
Mahmud, his nephew, tried to seize the city and suc- 
ceeded in occupying it for a short time, after which it 
was re-taken by Mu'izz ad-Dawla, who then held it 


until his death in 453. Before he expired he appointed 
his brother 'Atiya as his successor, but Mahmud made 
war against his uncle and, helped by the Greeks, 
recovered Aleppo in 457. Soon after this, as Mahmud 
was convinced that the Fatimid rule in Syria was in its 
final decay, he made his submission to the Khalif of 
Baghdad and his Sultan Alp Arslan. This change was 
unpopular m Aleppo where the people were attached 
to the Shi'ite sect; there was no open resistance but 
clearly expressed discontent. The worshippers stripped 
the great mosque of its prayer mats, saying that these 
had been bought or given for Shi'ite services ; let those 
who wished to pray in the Sunni fashion buy others 
for themselves. 

The wazir al-Jarjarai died in 436, the year following 
the death of Anushtakin. His disappearance opened 
the way to an increase of faction fighting and court 
intrigue in Cairo. The next wazir was Ibn al-Anbari, 
who soon provoked the enmity of the Queen Mother. 
It seems that Abu Nasr, Sa'd ad-Dahir's brother, was 
insulted by one of the wazir's servants, and when Abu 
Nasr complained he only obtained a rough answer from 
the wazir. By the plots of S'ad ad-Dahir and harira 
influence, Ibn al-Anbari was deposed and replaced by 
the renegade Jew, Abu Mansur Sadaqa, in whom the 
Queen expected to find a docile instrument. But Abu 
Sa'd continued his intrigues against Ibn al-Anbari, and 
finally secured his execution in 440, But this proved 
his undoing, for Sadaqa be^an to fear that the same 
fate might lie in store for him also, so he bribed the 
Turkish guard to assassinate Abu Sa'd, and Abu Nasr 
was put to death on the same day. In retaliation the 
Queen Mother procured the assassination of Sadaqa. 
The next wazir was a mere creature of the Queen and 
imported more negro troops in large numbers to 
counterbalance the Turkish guard, whilst the Khalif 
and his supporters brought in more Turks and had the 
wazir murdered. The next wazir held office only three 
m'onths and then was deposed. For the six years 
following (436-442) the domestic politics of Egypt 
centered entirely in the struggle between the Turkish 
mercenaries and the negro troops. 

Then in 442 there came forward once more a capable 
wazir in the humble fisherman's son al-Yazuri, as his 


name denotes a native of the coast village of Yazur, 
near Jaffa, and he held office more or less firmly for a 
period of eight years. 

There can be no doubt that he was a perfectly earnest 
reformer, so far as his knowledge extended, and that 
some of his experiments were rash and unsuccessful 
does not detract from his personal sincerity. One of 
his first measures was to sell the government stores of 
corn at the lowest current prices, thus bringing down 
the price of corn throughout the country and forcing 
the merchants to put their stock upon the market at 
prices which suited the people. Incidentally this in- 
volved a severe loss- to the revenue, and, a more serious 
result, there was nothing available when soon after- 
wards a bad Nile produced general scarcity, so the 
country had again an experience of famine and then of 
plague. In these circumstances he appealed to the 
Greek Emperor, Constantine Monomachos, and ar- 
rangements were made for a supply of some two 
million bushels which eased the situation. For several 
seasons when the Niles were bad this assistance con- 
tinued until Constantine died in 447. The next Greek 
ruler, the Empress Theodora, tried to drive a harder 
bargain and stiplated for a full alliance, defensive and 
offensive, as the price. To this the wazir was not 
willing to agree, for shortage in Egypt might not 
happen every year, whilst such an alliance would be 
permanent. As a result the supplies were stopped and 
minor hostilities took place in the neighbourhood of 
Antioch. The stoppage was not of great importance as 
next year there was an exceptionally good Nile and 
Egypt was filled with abundance. Taught by experi- 
ence the wazir bought freely and laid up stores for next 
year's possible requirements. At the same time he took 
active measures to prevent money-lenders seizing the 
standing crops or merchants buying the unreaped corn 
as it stood at a low figure, and so protected the thrift- 
less people from the wrongs which had m'ost preyed 
upon them in the past. 

In his dealings with the Copts he was harsh. Again 
as in the anti-Christian legislation of Hakim we 
observe the great unpopularity of those who were here- 
ditary tax-collectors and who were suspected, no doubt 
with excellent reason, of defrauding the revenue- The 


strict organization introduced under the first Fatimid 
Khalif had been allowed to grow slack, its continuance 
meant constant effort and unceasing supervision, and 
this sustained effort hardly lies within the oriental 
character. As wazir Yazuri (himself amassed great 
wealth, far beyond what could possibly have come to 
him from the regular emoluments of his office : a 
certain amount of perquisites, of a kind which the 
western would be inclined to describe as bribery, is 
known and tolerated in oriental administration and 
Yazuri, a minister who iriust be regarded as a good and 
beneficent ruler in spite of this, was not the one to take 
a high ground of morality in such matters. He im- 
prisoned the Patriarch Christodoulos whom he accused 
of persuading the Nubian king to withhold tribute, a 
charge which does not seem to have had any found- 
ation ; then laid heavy fines on the whole Coptic com- 
munity, no less a sum than 70,000 dinars, and closed 
churches until none were left in use, and imprisoned 
the bishops, all it would appear in the attempt to make 
the Copts pay up the fine or, as Yazuri would no doubt 
have described it, to disgorge some part of their 
plunder filched from the public revenue. It does not 
seem that there was any sectarian motive or feeling in 
these measures, although they are sometimes m'ade to 
figure as religious persecution . 

In 450 Yazuri died, poisoned by order of the Queen 
Mother with the consent of the Khalif. The ostensible 
dharge was that he had been detected in treasonable 
correspondence with the court of Baghdad, but the real 
reason seems to have been that his inordinate wealth, 
which could only have been attained by defrauding the 
public revenue on a gigantic scale, had awakened 
jealousy and suspicion. 

It is interesting to turn aside for a moment to the 
Persian poet Nasir-i-Khusraw, wiho visited Cairo in the 
years just preceding the ministry of Yazuri and who 
left a most graphic account of the wealth and splendour 
of the Fatimid court and the prosperity of Cairo even 
at that period of comparative disorder. In the eyes of 
this traveller, familiar with the most prosperous and 
cultured cities of Persia and 'Iraq, the magnificence of 
Cairo and its court seemed astonishing, and exactly the 
same impression was made years afterwards, after the 


Fatimids had long passed the zenith of their glory, on 
the Crusaders from the west. Under Fatimid rule, 
apparently, Cairo surpassed all the cities of the then 
known world in its luxury, magnificence, and wealth. 
As we have already noted ostentatious display was the 
besetting fault of the whole Fatimid dynasty, but this, 
it must be remembered, is usually popular in oriental 
circles. Nasir-i-Khusraw was a devout Isma'ilian and 
regarded Cairo as the metropolis of his religion and 
the Khalif as the true Imam, religious beliefs which 
he expresses freely in his works. He was a secretary 
under the government in Khurasan until he experienced 
a conversion to the religious life and, resigning his 
office, became first a pilgrim and then a aa'i of the 
Isma ( ihan sect. In his best known work the Safar- 
nama he describes how, after he had turned to religion, 
he set out for Mecca in 437, and relates the experiences 
of his journey. He reached Mecca in 439 and returned 
thence to Damascus, then went lo Jerusalem, and then 
by land to Cairo where he remained two or three years, 
and during his stay was initiated into the higher grades 
of the Isma'ilian fraternity. As his work was intended 
for general reading he is cautious in referring to the 
more intimate matters of religion, but makes it quite 
clear that he believes in the allegorical interpretation 
of the Qur'an, that ho accepts the Fatimid Khalif as 
the true Imam, ^and adheres whole-heartedly to the 
doctrines of the Fatimite sect. He gives a most glow- 
ing description, not only of the splendours' of the 
Cairene court, but of the extraordinary wealth and 
prosperity of the bazars artd their merchants, and this 
at a time (circ. 440) which we generally regard as one 
of the less fortunate periods of Fatimid rule. It is 
particularly interesting to note his observations on the 
Egyptian army at the time when its factions were at the 
bottom of all the domestic troubles of Cairo. He 
estimates the whole army as about 215,000 rrien. Of 
the cavalry 35,000 came from North Africa, Berbers 
and Arabs, 50,000 were Arabs from the Hijaz, and 
30,000 were of mixed composition. Of the infantry, 
where the racial elements are more significant, 20,000 
were black troops raised in North Africa, 30,000 were 
Ethiopians by which we must understand Nubians, 
Sudanis, etc* 10,000 were Syrians, Turks and Kurds, 


30,000 were slaves presumably from central Africa for 
the most part, and 10,000 are described as the " palace 
guard/ 1 whicih seems to have been a kind of foreign 
legion of adventurers from various parts of Africa, 
Asia, and Europe. We shall have to return again to 
Nasir-i-Khusraw, for after leaving Cairo he became a 
da'i of the Isma'ilians in western Asia, and indirectly 
played an important part in the formation of the off- 
shoot of the Ism'a'ilians, which afterwards became 
notorious as the " Assassins." 

Yazun's wazirate saw a great limitation of Fatimid 
control over North Africa, where in 443 Ifrikiya 
definitely repudiated the Shi'ite doctrines. At that 
time the ruler of Ifrikiya settled now at the town of 
Mahadiya which had replaced Kairawan, was Mu'izz 
al-Himyari as-Sanhaji, the hereditary chieftain of one 
of the more prominent Berber tribes, and more or less 
hereditary governor of Ifrikiya. Hakim had conferred 
on him robes of state with the title Sharaf ad-Dawla 
(" nobleness of the empire ") in 407. Up to this time 
the Hamfite system of canon law had prevailed through 
North Africa, for the Shi'ite attempt to introduce the 
system ascribed to Ja'far as-Sadiq seems to have been 
a failure, but Mu'izz introduced the Malikite juris- 
prudence throughout his governorate; this, it will be 
remembered, was the system banned by the Khalif az- 
Zahir in Egypt, and by thus acting Mo'izz showed 
very plainly his entire disregard of the Fatimid who 
claimed to be his suzerain. Now, in 433, Mu'izz 
formally repudiated Fatimid authority, omitting the 
name of Mustansir from the khutba, and replacing it 
with the name of the 'Abbasid Khalif of Baghdad. At 
this Mustansir wrote : " Thou hast not trod in the 
steps of thy forefathers, showing us obedience and 
fidelity? 1 ' but Mu'izz replied : " My father and fore- 
fathers were kings in Maghrab before thy predecessors 
obtained possession of that country. Our family 
rendered them services not to be rewarded by any rank 
which tthou canst give. When people attempted to 
degrade them, they exalted themselves by means of 
their swords." Thus the Fatimids lost what had been 
the earliest part of their dominions in Africa, although 
the loss was not without its benefit, for Ifrikiya had 
always been a course of trouble and of little real profit. 


The defection of Ifnkiya was not followed in all 
parts of North Africa. There were still devoted 
Shi'ites in those parts, and they revolted from Mo'izz 
when the Fatimid sent the Arab tribe of Hilal to win 
back the country. The Arabs succeeded in recovering 
Barqa and Tripoli, but were unable to advance further 
west. At the same time various independent states, 
for the most part professing to be S'hi'ile, arose in 

In 448 the Turk, Tughnl Beg, was recognised in 
Baghdad as the Sultan and lieutenant of the Khalif. 
The Saljuq Turks were strictly orthodox, and indeed 
at this time recognised themselves as the champions 
of orthodoxy. When, two years later, the general 
of the troops in Baghdad, <\ Turk named Arslan 
al-Basasin, revolted against ihe Khalif cil-Ka'im 
and expelled him from Baghdad, he put the seal 
on his revolt by causing the klnitha to be said 
throughout Mesopotamia in the name of the Katimid 
al-Mustansir, and sent him his protestation of 
allegiance. The expelled 'Abbasir Khalif took 
refuge with the Emir of the Arabs and stayed with 
him one year, and then the Saljuq Tughril Beg came 
to his relief, and having attacked and slain al-Basasiri, 
reinstated the 'Abbasid in Baghdad. The Kfialif made 
his entry into the city exactly one year after his expul- 
sion, so that Fatimid al-Mustansir had just one year's 
nominal recognition in Mesopotamia, but this cannot 
be seriously regarded as an extension of the Fatimid 

The proclamation of the Fatimid Khalif ate in 
Baghdad and the exile of the 'Abbasid Khalif from 
his capital raised unduly high expectations m Egypt. 
The more so as the official robe and jewelled turban 
of the Baghdad Khalif, as well as the iron lectern, were 
carried off to Cairo, and remained there until the fall 
of the Fatimids. Al-Mustansir was confident that these 
symbols would be soon followed by the 'Abbasid in 
person, and laid out a large sum, slated to be no less 
than two million dinars, in preparing the second palace 
which stood facing his own dwelling across the great 
square in Knhira for the occupation, as he hoped, of 
his illustrious captive. 

In fact, however, the Fatimid Khalif ate ha3 already 
passed its happiest hours and was rapidly approaching 


its decline. The Arabs still held Tripoli and Barqa as 
subjects of Egypt, but this was the western limit of 
Fatamid rule and the death of Anushtakin had prac- 
tically ended its authority in Syria. 

Just about this time, however, there was a temporary 
restoration of Fatimid authority in the Hijaz* and this 
not due to a rebel like al-Basasiri, but to the work of a 
devout and earnest Shi'ite. Abu 1-Hasan 'Alfc b. 
Muhammad b. 6 Ali as-Sulaihi was the son of a Qadi of 
Yemen, a strict and orthodox Sunni. The son, how- 
ever, came under the influence of an Isma'ilian mission- 
ary named 'Amir b. 'Abdullah az-Zawwalhi who, 
concealing- his Shi'ite opinions, was received into great 
favour by the Qadi, but in private intercourse with the 
son taught him the Fatimid system of canon law and 
the tawil or allegorical interpretation of the Qur'an. 
For fifteen years as-Sulaihi acted as guide to the 
Meccan pilgrims along the road between as-Sarat and 
Taif, then in 429 he broke out in revolt against the 
established government and, at the head of sixty 
followers, whom he bound by oath, seized upon Mount 
Mashar. Secretly he supported the Khalifate of 
Mustansir, but this he concealed for fear of Najah, the 
chieftain of the Tihama. In 452 he presented Najah 
with a beautiful female slave who, acting under his 
directions, poisoned Najah and then released from all 
need of concealment openly proclaimed the Fatimid 
Imamate. Three years later we find him the master of 
all Yemen, having his headquarters at Sana'a, and for 
nearly twenty years the khutba in the cities of Yemen, 
and for part of that time also in the holy cities) of the 
Hijaz made mention of the name of the Khalif al- 

After the death of Najah he offered to give the chief- 
tainship of the Tihama to anyone who would pay him 
100,000 dinars of gold. The sum was at once paid by 
his wife on behalf of her brother Asaad b. Shihati. 
"Where didst thou get this, mistress?'* asked as- 
Sulaih, " From God," she replied, " God is bounteous 
without measure to whom he will (Qur. ii. 208). " Per- 
ceiving that the money came from his own treasury 
as-Sulaihi smiled and took it saying, " Here is our 
money returned lo us " (Qur. xii. 65). 

In 473 he made the pilgrimage to Mecca, taking with 


him his wife and all the princes whom he thought at all 
likely to revolt during his absence. Having appointed 
his son al-Malik al-Mukarram as his deputy at home 
he set out with 2,000 horsemen and encamped outside 
al-Mahjam. Whilst there he was sought out and found 
by Sa'id, the son of the poisoned Najah, who had been 
roving about the country but had managed to evade 
the soldiers of as-Sulaihi. At the very moment when 
Sa'id entered as-Sulaihi's tent 5,000 horsemen were out 
in search of him. Entering his enemy's tent Sa'id at 
once cut off his head and then, escaping, went out and 
joined himself to the horsemen who were searching for 
him; he announced to them as-Sulaihi's death, 
declared who he was himself, claiming to be one of 
their own race and simply acting to avenge his father's 
death. At once the horsemen placed themselves under 
his command, and returning to the camp fell upon as- 
Sulaihi's guards and defeated them. As-Sulaihi's head 
was placed on the top of his own state umbrella and 
carried round to the chanting of the verse, " O God, 
possessor of all power, thou givest power to whom thou 
wilt, and from whom thou wilt thou takest it away. 
Thou raisest up whom thou will, and whom thou wilt 
thou dost abase. In thy hand is good ; for thou art 
over all things potent M (Qur. Hi. 25). Thus as- 
Sulaihi's kingdom came to an end and with it ceased 
the recognition of the Fatimid Khalif in Arabia (Ibn 
Khali. 512, etc.). 

Thus, from time to time, Muntasir received tem- 
porary recognition in various unexpected quarters and 
seemed to oulk more prominently than any of the 
preceding Fatimid Khalifs in the history of Islam, but 
meanwhile his kingdom was on the decline and in 
Egypt was in evil condition, indeed the period 430 to 
466 shows the nadir of their authority in Egypt itself. 

The death of Yazuri in 430 was a very serious loss 
as it once more liberated the factions and forces of 
disorder, the evil influence being the Turkish general 
Nasir ad-Dawla, the same who had succeeded Anush- 
takin in Syria. After the murder of Yazuri th^re were 
forty different wazirs in the space of nine years, many 
of these being put to death at the end of their term of 
office, although about this lime the more humane 
practice came into force of appointing the deposed 


minister to some minor post, very often some provin- 
cial government, from which it was quite possible for 
him to rise to the wazirate again. None of these was a 
man of any great weight or marked personality, so that 
the Khalif fell entirely into the hands of mere court 
flatterers, altogether obscure and incompetent persons, 
and himself developed a childish and petulant attitude. 
He was especially annoyed at the frequent interference 
of the Queen Mother in the affairs of the state, but had 
not the strength or courage to check her. 

The faction rights between the Turkish mercenaries 
and the negro troops became more constant and violent 
under this weak and incompetent rule. At length in 
454 the Turks, led by Nasir ad-Dawla the Commander- 
in-Chief, drove the negro regiments out of Cairo and 
chased them to Upper Egypt where they were kept, 
although for some years they made regular attempts to 
recover their footing in Lower Egypt. The victorious 
Turks dominated Cairo, held the successive wazirs in 
subjection, treated the Khalif with contempt, and used 
their power to deplete the treasury by increasing their 
pay to nearly twenty times its former figure. At last 
Nasir ad-Dawla's tyranny made him offensive even to 
hifa own officers, and gave the Khalif the opportunity 
of getting rid of him in 462, Though deposed in Cairo 
he was able to hold his own in Alexandria where (he had 
the support of the B. Qorra Arabs and the Lawata 
Berbers. Thus the Arab and Berber tribes under 
Nasir, helped by some of the Turkish mercenaries, were 
in command of Alexandria and a considerable portion 
of Lower Egypt, whilst the expelled negro troops were 
in possession of Upper Egypt, the Kfaalif's authority 
being 1 limited to Cairo and its immediate vicinity. 
Added to this was the fact that beginning with 458 
there had been a series of bad Niles followed by a 
famine of seven years duration (459-465), whose later 
period was aggravated by Cairo being practically 
isolated by the rebel forces to the north and to the 
south, the Berbers in Lower Egypt deliberately 
aggravating the distress by ravaging the country, 
destroying the embankments and canals, and seeking 
every way to reduce the capital and the neighbouring 1 
districts by sheer starvation. In the city a house could 
be bought for 20 pounds of flour, an egg was sold for 


a dinar, a cake of bread for fifteen dinars, and even 
horses, mules, cats, and dogs were sold at high prices 
for food. In the Khalif's own stable where there had 
been 10,000 animals there were now only three thin 
horses, and his escort fainted from hunger as it accom- 
panied him through the streets. Many great princes 
and ex-officials of the court gladly filled menial offices 
in the few houses where food was still found, and 
sought employment as grooms, sweepers, and attend- 
ants in the baths. Of all the Fatimids Mustansir had 
at one time enjoyed the largest revenues and in 442 
he had inherited the almost incredible wealth of two 
aged ladies descended from his ancestor Mo'izz. But 
most of this had long since been plundered by the 
Turkish guard, and now he also was reduced to dire 
poverty. The Queen Mother and other ladies of the 
Khalif's family made good their escape and took refuge 
in Baghdad. At length the people of Cairo were 
reduced to feeding on human flesh, which was even 
sold publicly in the markets. Wayfarers were waylaid 
in the lonelier streets, or caught by hooks let down from 
the windows, and devoured. As an inevitable result 
of this protracted famine plague broke out, whole 
districts were absolutely denuded of population, and 
house after house lay empty. 

Meanwhile the Turkish mercenaries had drained the 
treasury, the works of art and valuables of all sorts 
in the palace were sold to satisfy their demands ; often 
they themselves were the purchasers at merely nominal 
prices and sold the articles again at a profit. Em'eralds 
valued at 300,000 dinars were bought by one Turkish 
general for 500 dinars, and in one fortnight of tbe year 
460 articles to the value of 30,000,000 dinars were sold 
off to provide pay for the Turks. But this selling of the 
valuable collections accumulated in the palace was as 
nothing compared to the damage done wantonly by 
sheer mischief or unintentionally by carelessness. The 
precious library which had been rendered available to 
the public and was one of the objects for which many 
visited Cairo was scattered, the books were torn up, 
thrown away, or used to light fires. 

At length, after the Queen and her daughters had 
left Cairo, the Turks began fighting amongst them- 
selves. Nasir ad-Dawla attacked the city which was 


defended by the rival faction of the Turkish guard and, 
after burning part of Fustat and defeating the 
defenders, entered as a conqueror. When he reached 
the palace he found the Khalif lodged in rooms which 
had been stripped bare, wailed on by only three slaves, 
and subsisting on two loaves which were sent him daily 
by the charitable daughters of Ibn Babshad the 

After this victory over the unhappy city Nasir ad- 
Dawla became so over-bearing and tyrannical in his 
conduct that he provoked even his own followers, and 
so at length he was assassinated in 466. But this only 
left the city in a worse condition than ever, for it was 
now at the mercy of the various Turkish factions which 
behaved no better than troops of brigands. 

At this desperate juncture al-Mustansir was roused 
to action and wrote to the Armenian Badr al-Jamali, 
who had once been purchased as a slave by Ibn 
'Ammar and was now acting as governor of Tyre, 
begging him to come to the rescue. Badr replied that 
he would do so if he were allowed to bring his own 
army with him and were given a free hand. This- was 
granted, and soon Badr was on his way. With courage 
quickened by the approach of rescue the Khalif ven- 
tured to arrest Ildeguz, the Turkish governor of Cairo, 
and thus put some check on the military tyranny. At 
his arrival Badr was well received by the Turkish 
mercenaries who had no idea that he had been invited 
by the Khalif. His first act was to invite the Turkish 
leaders to a conference : each of his own dhief officers 
was told off to deal with one of these leaders and, at a 
given signal, each slaughtered the man who had 
been designated. Badr then set himself to restore 
order in Cairo, and this he did efficiently but with) the 
severity rendered necessary by the desperate condition 
of the city, and thus re-established the Khalif as master. 
The grateful prince could not do too much to show his 
appreciation of these services, and Badr was created 
wazir of the sword and of the pen, i.e., chief minister 
of affairs military and civil, Chief Qadi and Chief Da'i. 
After reducing Cairo to complete order he proceeded 
with his troops through Lower Egypt, putting down 
brigandage and disorder until he reached Alexandria 
where he had some resistance to overcome, but in due 


course that also was reduced. The settlement of Cairo 
and Lower Egypt occupied the greater part of 467 : 
then in 468 he proceeded to Upper Egypt and succeeded 
in disbanding the black troops which held out there, 
and reduced those parts also to good order. Thus, 
once more, Egypt was under an efficient and firm 
government. It is true that his efforts were greatly 
assisted by the fact that the year 466 saw an exception- 
ally good Nile, so that prosperity and abundance once 
more reigned through the land. It is interesting to 
note that the Khalif set him'self to the formation of a 
new library at Cairo as one of his first tasks ; it helps 
us to realize that the Shi'ites were then as always the 
friends of learning. 

Meanwhile difficult problems had arisen in Syria. 
The Saljuq Turks, who were now dominant in 
Baghdad, were fanatically orthodox and set themselves 
deliberately to root out the Fatimids from Islam* In 
461, during the period of disorder in Egypt, they had 
gained possession of Jerusalem, and in 466 they took 
Damascus which never again acknowledged a Fatimid 
ruler. The Saljuq general Atsiz then planned an 
expedition against Egypt itself, and as this threat came 
just at the moment when Badr was setting himself to 
the task of restoring order in Egypt he was not in a 

>sition to attempt an expedition against the Saljuk 
urks. Ships were made ready to remove the court to 
Alexandria, and messengers were sent out to attempt 
to bribe the Turkish general to retire. In fact Atsiz 
was not well supported and felt himself not in a position 
to press forward, so that this danger was averted. As 
soon as Badr had reduced Lower Egypt he sent an 
expedition to recover Palestine and Syria, and his army 
was able to gain possession of Jerusalem, where Atsiz 
had been governor since 468. Hard pressed by the 
Egyptians Atsiz appealed for help to the Saljuq 
general Tutush who had entered Syria with large 
reinforcements, and at length evacuated from Jerusalem 
and marched out to join with him. He met Tutush at 
Damascus, but the Saljuq Commander-in-Chief severely 
rebuked Atsiz for quitting Jerusalem and arrested and 
executed him (A.H. 471), and then himself took posses- 
sion of the whole of Syria. In 478 Tutush, now 
'Abbasid viceroy in Syria took Aleppo, but soon after 


this he found himself opposed by his nephew Bark- 
yaruk, with whom he was compelled to wage war for 
some time until he was slain in battle by his nephew's 
forces in 488. Taking advantage of this civil war Badr 
made another attempt upon Damascus, but this was 
unsuccessful, although the Egyptians recovered Tyre 
and Akka. Shortly after this success, in 487, Badr died 
and was succeeded as wazir by his son Abu 1-Kasim 
Shahanshah, commonly known as al-Afdal; and the 
wazir's death was soon followed by that of the Khalif 

The rule of Badr was especially associated with a 
great development of building, and especially with the 
construction of new walls and &ates round Cairo. In 
this work Badr employed Syrian architects who intro- 
duced Byzantine styles of architecture and of fortifica- 
tion, and made a greater use of stone in place of the 
brick which predominated in the older constructions. 
The existing gates known respectively as the Bab an- 
Nasr, the Bab al-Futuh, and the Bab az-Zuwayla, are 
specimens of Badr's work, and show an almost purely 
Byzantine style in marked contrast to the native 
Egyptian work, and so the outpost tower called by the 
unintelligible name of the Burg adh-Dhiffir. All these 
formed part of the south boundary of the ancient 
Kahira, but are now included within the area of the 
modern city. To the same period belongs the restor- 
ation of the Milometer in the island of Roda (A.H. 485). 

In 483 Badr made a new assessment and return of 
taxation for Egypt and Syria. Under his rule the 
annual revenue had risen from 2,000,000 dinars to 
3,100,000, and peace and prosperity reigned in all the 
land of Egypt, though war prevailed in Syria, the mark 
of the first waves of Saljuq invasion. 

Before closing the narrative of the reign of Mustansir 
we must take note of a visit to Egypt paid by a Persian 
missionary in 471, closely connected with the visit of 
Nasir-i-Khusraw some years before, and important in 
its bearing" upon events which followed soon after 
Mustansir's death. 

This Persian missionary, Hasan-i-Sabbah by name, 
was born in Qum whither his father had removed from 
Kufa. Like his father he was a Shi'ite of the "Twelver" 
sect, but came under the influence of Nasir-i-Khusraw 


who was an active propagandist, although at the time 
Isma'ilian doctrines were not making much progress in 
Asia. After considerable hestitation he became a 
proselyte of the Isma'ilians and took the oath of 
allegiance to the Fatimid Khalif. In 464 he came under 
the notice of the overseer of the mission work in the 
district (bahr, literally, "sea") of Isfahan, and was 
advised by him to make a pilgrimage to Egypt. After 
spending two years as assistant to the overseer of 
Isfahan he set out in 471 and reached Cairo in 467 
where he was well received by the Chief Da'i and other 
leading persons, but was not allowed to have an inter- 
view with the Khalif. At the time, it appears, the court 
was divided into two factions over the question of the 
succession, the one party holding to the Khalif s< elder 
son Nizar, the other to a younger son named Mustalu 
In one place Nasir-i-Khusraw says that the Khalif told 
him that his elder son Nizar was to be his heir, and the 
succession of the older son would be in accordance with 
the doctrines of the sect as already proved by their 
adherence to Isma'il, the son of Ja'far as-Sadiq. But 
Badr and the chief officials were on the side of the 
younger son Mustali, and it was probably the know- 
ledge that the Persian visitor was opposed to them on 
this question whidi stood in the way of a personal 
interview with Mustansir. After eighteen months in 
Egypt Hasan-i-Sabbah was forced to leave because, 
according to his own statement, he had provoked the 
suspicion of Badr. So in 472 he embarked at Alexan- 
dria. His ship was wrecked on the coast of Syria, and 
after much wandering (he at length made his way over- 
land to Isfahan where he arrived in 473. At once he 
commenced propaganda amongst the Isma'ilians in 
favour of Nizar as the chosen heir to the Imarriate^ In 
this work he was successful, and in 483 he obtained 
possession of the castle of Alamut (" the eagle's teach- 
ing ") which he made the headquarters of his branch 
of the Isma'ilian sect. As supporters of the claims of 
Nizar the members of this oranch were known as 
" Nizarites," but later the name of " Assassins '* 
became their commoner designation. This term repre- 
sents the Arabic Hashishi, that is to say, user of Indian 
hemp or the " Faqir's herb " (cannabis Indica), as this 
was used as a means of intoxication and exaltation to 


arouse the members of the sect charged with peculiarly 
difficult duties. In a later chapter (cf . pp. 213, etc.) we 
shall see that these duties, the acts which are now 
especially associated with the term assassin, were per- 
formed by quite subordinate members of the sect ; but 
these members entrusted with the performance of deeds 
of violence and daring were prepared by being worked 
up into a frenzy by the use of this drug whose peculiar 
influences are well known in the east. From 473 to the 
date of Mustansir's death in 487 these " Assassins " 
were occupied in preaching the claims of the prince 
Nizar to the Imamate, but they did not definitely 
separate from the Isma'ilian body or from tfieir 
allegiance to the Fatimid Khalif until, at Mustansir's 
death, the elder son Nizar was formally excluded from 
the succession, so that our further consideration of the 
sect is best deferred to the next reign. A large litera- 
ture exists on the history of the Assassins. The most 
important authority is the " Adventures of our master " 
(i.e., of Hasan-i-Sabbah), a lost work included amongst 
the books in the great library at Alamut and examined 
by * Ata Malik Juwayni before it was burned with other 
heretical works, and from it he makes important 

The longest Khalifate of Muslim history closed with 
flhe death of Mustansir on the i8th of Dhu 1-Hijja, 487 
(A.D. 1094), and at once the wazir al-Afdal announced 
the accession of the younger son al-Muslali. 


(A.H. 487 495=A.D. 10941101) 

As soon as al-Mustansir was dead the wazir al-Afdal 
al-Juyush entered the palace and placed Abu 1-Kasim 
Ahmad al-Mustali, a youth of eighteen years of age and 
the youngest son of the late Khalif on the throne. At 
the same time be sent for the other sons of Mustansir 
who were near at hand, Nizar the eldest son, and his 
brothers 'Abdullah and Isma'il, bidding them come 
quickly. As soon as they entered the room where the 
wazir "awaited them and saw their youngest brother 
enthroned they were filled with indignation, and when 
al-Afdal bade them do homage to Mustali as the new 
Khalif, Nizar burst out, "I would rather be cut in 
pieces than do homage to one younger than myself, and 
moreover I possess a document in the handwriting of 
my father by which he names me successor, and I shall 
go and bring it." At this he went out, presumably to 
get the document, but as he did not return the wazir 
sent after him, and it was found that he had left the 
city. Very soon afterwards he appeared at Alexandria, 
supported by his brother 'Abdullah and an emir named 
Ibn Mas sal, and there he assumed the title of Khalif 
with the surname of al-Mustafa li-dinillaih (" the chosen 
for God's religion"), and received the oath of allegiance 
from the Alexandrians. He promised Nasir ad-Dawla 
Iftikin, the Turkish governor of Alexandria, that he 
should be wazir. As we have already seen, there was 
a party ready to support Nizar even before Mustansir's 
death, and his claims seemed to have fair prospects 
of success. No doubt we may say that the sectarian 
supporters of the Fatimid Imamate were with him, 
whilst al-Afdal headed the secularist party : but there 
would, no doubt, be many aggrieved with the existing 
administration, and even perhaps remnants of those 
whom al-AfdaPs father had suppressed with such 
severity, who were ready to throw in their lot with the 
opposition to the wazir's nominee in Cairo. 


In 488 al-Afdal found it necessary to take the field 
against Nizar and his followers, but suffered a sharp 
repulse in the first engagement. Encouraged by this 
the Nizarites laid waste the country north of Cairo, 
Again al-Afdal prepared his forces and marched this 
time to Alexandria and laid siege to it. During this 
siege Ibn Massal had a dream in which he seemed to 
be riding on horseback and al-Afdal was following him 
on foot. He consulted an astrologer as to the meaning 
of this dream, and was informed that it signified the 
ultimate success of al-Afdal, for those who walk the 
earth are those who will possess it. Ibn Massal took 
this very seriously and thought it prudent to leave 
Nizar's party, so he departed and retired to Lukk near 
Barqa. This defection marked the turning point of 
Nizar's career for, after losing Ibn Massal and his men, 
his fortunes gradually declined. Convinced that re- 
sistance could not endure for long he sent out and 
asked al-Afdal if he would spare his life if he sub- 
mitted, Receiving a favourable answer the gates of 
Alexandria were opened to the wazir who took possession 
of the city and, after putting an end to all resistance, 
returned to Cairo with Nizar and 'AbdullaJh. Nizar's 
subsequent life is totally unknown. He was either im- 
prisoned in absolute secrecy, or put to death : stories 
were told of both these ends, but nothing was ever 
known for certain. A certain Muhammad afterwards 
claimed to be Nizar's son, and had a following in 
Yemen : he was brought to Cairo and crucified in 523. 
In all probability he was an imposter. 

The suppression of Nizar and his partisans meant 
the triumph of al-Afdal, and during the rest of Mustali's 
reign the Khalif was entirely without authority in the 
state, and cam'e out only as required at public functions. 

The suppression of Nizar involved a definite separ- 
ation between the Fatimids of Cairo and their court on 
the one side and the Asiatic adherents of Nizar's 
Imaraate on the other, and so from 488 onwards the 
Assassins formed a distinct sect, as much opposed to 
the Fatimids and their followers as to the orthodox 
Muslims. The founder, Hasan-i-Sabbah, had now 
fully organised that sect on lines which were in general 
outline imitated from the traditional system of the 
Isma'ilians, but differed in detail. There were grades 


and successive stages of initiation, and the real beliefs 
of the higher grades were of the same pantheistic/- 
agnostic type as in the Isma'ilian body, and similarly 
the members of those upper grades were keen students 
of the science and philosophy which had been derived 
from Hellenistic tradition. When the headquarters of 
the sect at Alamut were finally taken they were found 
to contain a vast library as well as an observatory and 
a collection of scientific instruments. In fact we may 
say with confidence that the Assassins represent the 
highest level of scholarship and research in contem- 
porary Asiatic Islam, if we can indeed regard them as 
within the Islamic fold; an island of culture and 
learning in the midst of reactionary orthodoxy and 
actual ignorance, the result of the submerging of 
Asiatic Islam beneath the flood of Turkish invasion* 
Far away in the west a purer culture was beginning to 
dawn in Muslim Spain, but in Asia philosophy and 
science were being rapidly obscured by the reactionary 

As organised by Hasan-i-Sabbah the Assassins 
appear in six grades. The highest of thes^ was filled 
by the " Chief Da'i " who recognised the Im'am alone 
as superior on earth. So long as Mustansir lived he 
was regarded as the true Imam ; after his death Nizar 
was his successor, and later on we find the Chief Da'i 
claiming descent from Nizar, but this was as yet in 
the future. It was the same development as that which 
we have already observed in the history of the/ Shi'ite 
sect founded by 'Abdullah b. Maymun. Amongst out- 
siders the Chief Da'i commonly went by the name of 
"Sheikh of the mountain,* 1 i.e., of the mountain 
stronghold of Alamut which formed the headquarters 
of the sect, and this is reproduced as " the old man of 
the mountain " in the records of the Crusaders. Under 
the Chief Da'i were the " Senior Missionaries " (da'i- 
i-kabir), each supervising a diocese or bahr (" sea "), 
and under these were the ordinary missionaries. Thus 
far the organization merely reproduced that already 
prevalent in the Isma'ilian propaganda. Beneath the 
missionaries were the ordinary members in two main 
grades known respectively as " companions " (rafiq) 
and " adherents " Oasiq), the former more fully 
initiated in the batimite or allegorical interpretations of 


doctrine than the latter. The sixth grade, theoretically 
the lowest, was peculiar to the Assassin sect, and con- 
sisted of " devoted ones " (fida'i) who do not seem to 
have been initiated, but were bound to a blind and 
unquestioning obedience which has its parallel in the 
discipline of the various darwisfa orders, but was here 
carried to exceptional extremes. These fida'is were 
carefully trained and were especially practised in the 
use of various forms of disguise, after all only a more 
perfect refinement of the methods originally evolved by 
the Hashimite missionaries; but these were not dis- 
guised for the purpose of acting more efficiently as 
missionaries and for penetrating different communities 
as teachers, but solely for the purpose of carrying out 
the specific orders of the Chief Da% and thus formed a 
most formidable branch of what soon became an 
exceptionally powerful secret society. In many cases 
the acts entrusted to the fida'is were acts of murder, 
and it is from this that the name of " assassin " has 
received its peculiar meaning in most of the languages 
of Western Europe. The fida'i, trained to the use of 
disguise, sometimes as a servant, or as a merchant, or 
daroish, or as a Christian monk, was able to penetrate 
into almost any society and to strike down suddenly 
the victim marked out; and counted it a triumphant 
success if this act involved his own death as well, A 
deliberate effort was made to surround the sect with an 
atmosphere of terror ; a Muslim prince would be struck 
down whilst he was acting as leader at prayer, or a 
Crusading knight as he was attending high mass at 
the head of his troops, or if there was not actual 
murder, a leader might wake up in his tent to find a 
message from the Assassins pinned by a dagger to the 
ground beside his couch, or a doctor of the law would 
find a similar message between the pages of the text 
book from which he was lecturing. All this was 
developed more elaborately as time went on, but already 
in the days of Mustali the sect had rendered itself pro- 
minent by getting rid of some leading men whom it 
regarded as its enemies, such as in 485 Nidhamu 
1-Mulk Hie great wazir of the Saljuq sultans, in 491 
'Abdu r-Rahman as-Samayrami the wazir of Barkiya- 
ruq's mother, and in 494 Unru Bulka, the rival of 
Nidhamu 1-Mulfc and the emir of greater influence in 


Isfahan. The higher members of the sect were 
domiciled at Alamut, or in some one or other of the 
various mountain fortresses they secured in Northern 
Persia and afterwards in Syria, but adherents were 
found everywhere scattered through western Asia. In 
its development the sect of Assassins was almost 
entirely Asiatic, but as professed adherents of Nizar the 
eldest son of Mustansir, the Assassins were, at least 
nominally, of Egyptian origin. 

So far the danger most threatening to the Fatimids 
had been the advance of the Saljuq Turks, pledged to 
the destruction of the Ism'a'ilian heresy, from the east : 
but in the fourth year of Mustah's reign a new danger 
appeared. This was the appearance of the Franks 
embarked on the First Crusade, who reached Syria in 
the year 490, when the Saljuq influence was already on 
the decline. The great Saliuq leader Tutush had died 
in the preceding year, and his two sons at once became 
rivals, the one, Duqaq, established at Damascus, the 
other, Rudwan, at Aleppo. Rudwan was anxious to 
obtain Fatimid assistance and inserted Mustali's name 
in the khulba, but the Fatimid state regarded the 
Saljuqs with dread and suspicion, and was disposed 
to welcome the Franks as possible allies against the 
Turks. Jerusalem remained in Saljuq hands under the 
control of the sons of Ortuk b. Aksab who had 
governed in the name of Tutush, and they formed an 
outpost of the Saljuq empire which the Fatimid 
government regarded as its chief enemy in the east. 

The Crusaders professed to be the champions of the 
Christian religion and declared their aim as being the 
deliverance of the sacred sites from the occupation of 
the Muslims. Before reaching Syria, however, they 
had made it plain that this was not to be understood 
in a literal sense, for they had shown marked hostility 
towards the Greek Church, and throughout the whble 
of their career they were the uncompromising enemies 
of all the eastern churches. No doubt this can be partly 
explained by a total lack of understanding or sym- 
pathy towards religious bodies whose general customs 
and external organisation, and more particularly whose 
liturgy, differed so markedly from the forms developed 
in the west; but the fact remains that their fellow 
Christians in the east soon came to regard the 


Crusaders with as much dislike as the Muslims. This 
antagonism towards the Greek and eastern churches 

fsnerally was fully defined before their arrival in Syria, 
ut in fact they were not even the champions of Latin 
Christianity. Some, no doubt, were sincere in their 
desire to rescue the Holy Land from non-Christian 
occupation, but for the most part they were adventurers 
desirous of carving out principalities in lands which 
they were well aware were much richer and more pros- 
perous than their own countries in the west. From 
their own point of view the time at which this Crusade 
arrived was exceptionally promising : the Saljuq 
power was broken and there was a temporary lull in 
the migration of the virile and warlike Turkish races 
westwards, whilst the Muslim community was divided 
between 'Abbasids and Fatimids beyond the possibility 
of united resistance. Twenty years earlier, or fifty 
years later they would certainly not have been able to 
establish themselves in Palestine, but just at the 
moment circumstances were favourable. 

Arriving in Syria in A.H. 490 the Crusaders under 
Baldwin (or Bardawil as he appears in tihe Arabic 
writers) took the city of Edessa and then proceeded to 
lay seige to Antioch which fell into their hands on the 
i6th of Rajab 491 (20th June, 1098). News of their 
arrival and first successes had early reached Egypt, 
and al-Afdal prepared to welcome them as likely 
auxiliaries against the Turks : it seemed fully possible 
that the Franks and Fatiraids might divide Western 
Asia between them, and such indeed would have been 
feasible. Under this impression al-Afdal sent an army 
into Palestine and wrested Jerusalem from Sokman the 
son of Ortuk, who held it as a part of the Saljuq 
empire, at the same time sending forward an embassy 
to the Franks welcoming them and asking to make an 
alliance with them. The Franks absolutely rejected 
these proposals and declined to accept any friendly 
overtures from Muslims. Very soon they proceeded 
to attack Jerusalem, and in the month of Shaban, 492, 
took it, plundering the mosques, slaughtering the 
Muslim population, and showing themselves hostile to 
orthodox and Shi'ite alike. This disillusioned al-Afdal 
and made it clear to him 1 that it was impossible to 
expect any sort of alliance with the new-comers. After 


taking Jerusalem and expelling the Falimid govern- 
ment the Franks elected Godfrey king of Jerusalem, 
a rank which 'he held until the following year, and 
during this time he did his best to introduce western 
customs and jurisprudence in the city as well as the 
Latin rite in the churches. 

In the following year (493) the Franks attacked the 
Egyptian army before Ascalon, which now remained 
the only important possession of the Fatimids in 
Palestine. Before the battle the wazir sent an envoy 
with a flag of truce, but this the Franks disregarded 
and made an assault upon those who, according to the 
customary usages of war, should have been sacred. 
In the ordinary way such attacks made in disregard! of 
a flag of truce, reported in practically every war, ought 
nut lo be treated too seriously by the historian: it is 
almost impossible, even in the best disciplined army, 
to make sure that no abuse of this kind shall ever 
occur, but in I'hc case of the Crusaders there seem's 
to have! been a deliberate intention to treat the Muslims 
as outside the ordinary conventions which were more 
or less observed amongst Christian nations : although 
it must be remembered that we are dealing with times 
before the rise of chivalry and the humaner attitude 
which characterised mediaeval warfare, all more fully 
developed after contact with the Muslims who did 
much lo refine Prankish manners and usages; and, 
moreover, the very mixed multitude loosely held 
together in the; Crusading ranks was undisciplined 
even beyond the wont of those days. In the succeeding 
engagement the Franks defeated al-Afdal and his 
forces, and he was compelled to embark for Egypt. 
Ascalon, however, was not taken as the citizens, 
alarmed by the recent savagery of the Franks in Jeru- 
salem and perceiving that tfoey were, for the most part, 
simply out for booty, bribed them to leave the city 

Two years later (495) the Franks gained another 
victory over the Egyptians near Jaffa and began 
seriously to consider the prospect of invading Egypt, 

At this juncture al-Mustah died. At the moment, 
fortunately, the wazir al-Afdal was in Egypt, and an 
the day of his death proclaimed his son al-Amir Khahf 
in his place* 


(A.H, 495524=11011131 A,D.) 

AT Mustali's death al-Afdal at once proclaimed Abu 
'Ali al-Mansur al-Amir bi-ahkamiJlah (" the ruler by 
the decress of God "), then only in his fifth year, as 
Khalif, retaining the government in his own hands as 
had now become the established custom at the Fatimid 
court. Al-Afdal was an able and efficient ruler, whilst 
the young Khalif was of the type so common in 
oriental courts, a mere votary of pleasure and an idler. 
The wazir restrained the indulgence of his tastes and 
kept him closely confined in the palace. Al-Amir does 
not seem to have been at all aggrieved at being ex- 
cluded from the government, but he certainly chafed 
at the restrictions which the wazir considered suitable 
to apply to his pleasures. 

The centre of interest still lies in the Crusaders who 
had now established a firm (hold in Palestine and were 
threatening Egypt, In 497 thev took possession of 
Akka (Acre), and this increased the anxiety felt in the 
Fatimid court, In the same year al-Afdal sent his son 
in command of an army to Palestine, and he was suc- 
cessful in inflicting a severe defeat on the Franks : 
many were put to flight, and Baldwin, who had 
succeeded Godfrey as king of Jerusalem, was compelled 
to hide in a haystack, The Egyptians then advanced 
and took Ramla and, after slaying a large number of 
ttie vanquished, sent three hundred knights prisoners 
to Egypt. Later in the year both sides were re-inforced, 
the Egyptians receiving an accession of four thousand 
cavalry as well as the support of a fleet, but no decisive 
step was taken and no progress made on eithter side. 
At this time nearly all Palestine was in the hands of 
the Franks save the coast towns, and the struggle 


centered round Ramla. The Fatimids had the ad- 
vantage of an alliance with Tughtegin, tfie Saljuq 
governor of Damascus, for the Turks had at last per- 
ceived that it was necessary for all Muslim powers to 
unite against those who had proved to be a common 
enemy. A battle took place between Ascalon and Jaffa, 
but without any important result. 

Nothing of marked importance took place during 
the next three years, but in 502 the Franks succeeded 
in taking the important coast town of Tripolis on 
Monday, the nth of Dhu 1-Hijja, When they entered 
the town they plundered and slaughtered indiscrimin- 
ately and vSeized many of the inhabitants for slaves; 
they destroyed the library of the college and tortured 
their prisoners in a barbarous manner. The Egyptian 
wazir had sent an army to the relief of the town, but 
it arrived too late to be of any service. 

After thu fall of Tripolis the Muslim forces centered 
at Tyro. In the following yciar (50,3) the Franks took 
Bairut, find in the year after Sidon, so that the Fatimid 
possessions wero reduced to a precarious hold on Ramla. 

Thus affairs stayed for some six years, then in 511 
Baldwin attempted the invasion of Hgypt, He took 
Farama, burning the mosques, houses, and suburbs, 
and then advanced to Tinnis. Near this town he was 
taken ill, and shortly afterwards died at al-Arish. At 
his death the projected invasion was abandoned and 
the Fronkish army retired, bearing with it the king of 
Jerusalem's body which was ultimately buried in the 
Church of the ResurrncCion. 

Kpypt had practically lost all hold upon Palestine, 
but yet the threatening horde of Franks was held off 
/from Kgypt itself, and this check was in no small 
decree creditable, to the wazir al-Afdal, who meanwhile 
maintained a firm though not absolutely pure govern- 
ment at home* But gradually the, Khahf became more 
and more restive under the severe tutelage of his wazir, 
and always there were intrigues of the aggrieved and 
th<; ambitions to urge him on, as well as the ever 
present influence of the harim which, in almost all 
oriental countries, is the centre of intrigues against the 
established powers- In 513 the Khahf began to plot 
definitely against his wazir, and one day as al-Afdal 
rode out towards the Nile he was attacked and severely 


wounded, so that he was carried home to die. The 
Khalif visited him on his death-bed and expressed great 
sympathy and regret for the accident which had be- 
fallen him, an accident whose real nature was perfectly 
well known to both : as soon as the wazir breathed his 
last the Khalif commenced plundering his house which 
was the depository of enormous wealth, and this 
occupied him forty days (Ibn Khali, i. 614, cf. Jamal 

After al-Afdal's death al-Amir appointed Muhammad 
b. Abi Shujaa b. al-Bataithi al-Ma'mun as wazir. This 
new officer was a capable financier but harsh and 
tyrannical, and restrained the Khalif more rigorously 
than his predecessor had done. He was the builder of 
the " grey mosque " (Jami* al-Akmar), so called from 
its being one of the earliest buildings in which stone 
was used almost exclusively, and completed the 
11 Mosque of the Elephant " (Jami* al-Fil) which had 
been commenced by al-Afdal in 498. He held office 
until 518 when he was arrested and his property con- 
fiscated. Three years later, in 521, he and five of his 
brothers, as well as the pretender who claimed to be 
Nizar's son, were put to death. 

After the fall of Ibn al-Bataihi the Khalif determined 
to act as his own wazir, and in this was assisted by the 
Christian monk Abu Najah b. Kanna, who undertook 
the department of finance. The monk's method was to 
farm out the taxes to Christian collectors for a net sum 
of 100,000 dinars, which he paid in to the treasury. 
But Abu Najah made himself extremely offensive by 
.his arrogant airs and by being the scape-goat of the 
harsh exactions of the collectors, the inevitable result of 
this system, and after a brief try the Khalif was per- 
suaded to depose him 1 , and he was flogged to death. 
Al-Amir continued, however, to act as his own wazir 
until his death in 524, and this made his office uni- 
versally detested and justifies the custom of appointing 
a wazir or deputy on whom the odium of the harsher 
details of the executive should lie, and against whom 
there might be, at least in theory, an appeal to ttoe 
throne. Indeed, during these years 519 to 524 the 
Khalif seems to have been more heartily hated than any 
other of his dynasty before or after. At length the end 
came in 524 by the (hands of Isma'ilian Assassins who 


had undertaken the duty of ridding the country of the 
tyrant. On Tuesday, the 3rd of Dhu 1-Qa'dah, the 
Khalif proceeded to Fustat and thence to the island of 
Roda, where he had built a pleasure bouse for a 
favourite Baidawi concubine, " Some persons who 
had plotted his death were lying 1 there concealed with 
their arms ready; it being agreed among them that 
they should kill him as he was going up the lane 
through which he had to pass in order to reach the 
top of the hill. As he was going by them, they sprang 
out and fell upon him 1 with their swords. He had then 
crossed the bridge and had no other escort than a few 
pages, courtiers, and attendants. They bore him in a 
boat across the Nile, and brought him still living into 
Cairo. The same night he was taken to the castle and 
there he died, leaving no posterity . . . al-Amir's 
conduct was detestable: oppressed the people, seized 
on their wealth and shed their blood : he committed 
with pleasure every excess which should be avoided, 
and regarded forbidden enjoyment as the sweetest. 
The people were delighted at his death " (Ibn Khali. 

ii. 457)- 

During the latter part of al-Amir's reign the Franks 
continued to consolidate their kingdom in Palestine. 
On Monday, the 22nd of Jumada II. 518, they took 
Tyre, and only Ascalon remained to the Fatimids of 
their former possessions in Asia. About this time the 
Franks began to strike their own coinage, alter issuing 
coins in the name of the Fatimid Khalif for three years. 


(A.H. 524-544=A.D. 1131-1149.) 

THE Khalif al-Amir left no son, but at the time of his 
death one of his wives was pregnant, and it was 
possible that she might give birth to an heir, Under 
these circumstances Abu 1-Maymun 'Abdu 1-Ham'id al- 
Hafiz li-dini-llah ("the guardian of the religion of 
God "), son of Muhammad, one of the brothers of 
Mustali, and consequently cousin to the late Khalif, 
was declared regent, and as such received the oath of 
allegiance from the citizens of Cairo on the very day of 
al-Amir's murder, and on the same day the wazir Abu 
'Ali Ahmad, son of al-Afdal, received the oath of 
allegiance from the troops. The regent al-Hafiz ex- 
pressed his confidence that the child about to be borne 
to the deceased Khalif would be a son, " No Imam of 
this family," he said, " dies without leaving a male 
child to whom he transmits the Imamate by special 
declaration " (Ibn Khali. 430). Although the late 
Khalif s cousin was thus declared formal regent the 
wazir Ahmkd put him in confinement and took the 
whole power into his own hands, and this received the 
ready acquiescence of the court and of the troops and 
people, for everyone regarded the late experiment of 
the Khalif acting as his own wazir as disastrous. The 
new wazir ruled justly and well, and restored to each 
the property which had been confiscated by al-Amir, so 
that as a ruler he was greatly esteemed. 

In other respects, however, his conduct throws a 
slrangfe light on the conditions prevailing in the 
Fatimid state at this period. The Fatimios claimed 
to be not only rulers of Egypt, but the legitimate 
Khalifs in true descent from the Prophet, and also 
Imams divinely appointed as guides and teachers of 


Islam. The whole Fatimid state was bound up with 
this religious theory, although it was one which did 
not command the sympathy of the bulk of the subject 
population, and a distinct tendency had more than once 
appeared to discard it for frankly secular claims. 
Under the wazir Ahmad this theory on which the 
Fatimid claim rested was formally discarded by the 
government. Ahmad himself was a Shi'ite, but of the 
sect of the " Twelvers " and so a follower, not of the 
Fatimid Imam under whom he held office, but of the 
hidden and unrevealed Imam who, under the name of 
Muhammad al-Muntazir, had disappeared in 260. For 
the present, therefore, the Friday prayer in the mosques 
was offered for the invisible " al-Ka'im," and his name 
appeared on the coinage. To us such a condition seems 
almost incredible, even though during the time the 
titular head was m'erely regent and not fully recognised 
as Khalif. When al- Amir's wife was delivered her 
child was a daughter, but for all that al-Hafiz remained 
simply regent until 526. 

Dissatisfied with his dubious position and the 
restrictions imposed by the wazir Hafiz plotted against 
him, and Ahmad was assissinated in the " Great 
Garden " as he was on his way to play polo on the 
1 5th of Muharram 526 (Dec., 1131). At his death 
Hafiz received the oath of allegiance as Khalif, and 
was acclaimed by his bodyguard, the "Young Guard," 
although his reign is usually dated from the date of his 
cousin ? s death. At this time al-Hafiz was fifty-seven 
years of age. 

He appointed as wazir an Armenian named Yanis 
who had been a slave of al-Afdal, one of the Armenian 
mercenaries whom he had brought from Syria. Yanis 
turned out to be a severe and hard ruler, and in tfae 
following year he was poisoned by the Khalif 's order. 
In spite of the warning of al-Amir's reign al-Hafiz then 
resolved to act as his own wazir, and in this he did 
well and was generally regarded with respect and 
attachment. His court was, however, divided into 
factions as the result of quarrels about the heirsftup 
between his two sons Hasan and Fa'iz, each supported 
by one of the two great bodies of negro mercenaries, 
the elder Hasan by the Rayhaniya regiirient, the 
younger by the Juyushiya- At length these quarrels 


resulted in open warfare, and the victorious Juyushiya 
to the number of 10,000 assembled before the royal 
palace and demanded the head of the prince Hasan. 
The Khahf was not in a position to refuse this demand 
and sent for one of the court physicians, a Jew named 
Abu Mansur, and asked him to poison Hasan, but the 
Jew prudently declined the dangerous task. He then 
sent for a Christian physician named Ibn Kirfa who 
performed it, and the dead prince's head was given 
to the rebels. But the Khalif never forgave Ibn Kirfa 
for what he had done, and before long an excuse was 
found to imprison the Christian physician, and in due 
course he was executed. 

After their successful revolt the troops elected as 
wazir the Armenian Bahrain. But he very soon made 
himself unpopular by showing marked favouritism 
towards his fellow countrymen who, for the most part, 
had entered the country in the company of the Armenian 
Badr al-Jam'ali. As a result he was deposed and most 
of the Armenians expelled from the country. Bahrain 
ended his life as a monk. 

In 532 Rudwan was appointed wazir and was the 
first official in Egypt to assume the title of "king." 
But he held office only for a few months, and in 534 
was cast into prison. 

Meanwhile the Franks had met with several checks* 
The Turks under Zengi defeated them at Atharib in 
525, and in 539 took Edessa from them. Thus the 
Franks began to be threatened from the north-east, and 
their opponents were consciously makmeplans for their 
final subjugation or expulsion. In 541 Zengi died and 
was succeeded by his son Nur ad-Din, who becomes the 
decisive factor in the affairs of western Asia and Egypt 
within the course of the next few years. At this time 
the Franks were distinctly on the decline, and the hopes 
built on the foundation of Jerusalem and other Latin 
kingdoms In Palestine and Syria were not being 
realised. The West began to feel that the First 
Crusade had failed in its effort, and so the Second 
Crusade, mainly the work of St. Bernard whose aims 
and intentions were above question, set out in 542 and 
attacked Damascus in the following year, the Crusaders 
then marching on Jerusalem, But the Second Crusade 


was an immediate and marked failure. Conditions 
were greatly changed from what they had been 
when the former Crusade arrived : there was now a 
strong Turkish power in Syria, and this was inclined 
and prepared to be aggressive. The Second Crusade 
was necessarily a failure. The only important result 
of Frankish invasion was the kingdom of Jerusalem 
which had been the work of the First Crusade. 

At this period of Egyptian history we are able to 
avail ourselves of the very interesting record Svhich 
Osama has left of his own experiences in Syria and 
Egypt, a record which hns been rendered accessible 
in the French translation of Derenbourg (Vie d'Ousuma 
Pans, 1886-93). Osama left Damascus in 538 and went 
to Cairo, where he was well received by al-Hafiz, who 
gave him a robe of honour and a house and other gifts. 
bo long as Hafiz ruled Osama look no part in the 
public affairs of Egypt, but has left observations upon 
the course of events, but in the next reign he comes 
forward prominently as an adviser, and usually as an 
adviser of evil. 

When the ex-wazir Rudwan had been ten years in 
prison he contrived to bore his way out through the 
prison walls by the help, it is said, of a rusty nail, and, 
joined by many of his friends, went to Gizeh intending 
to seize the wazirate by force. There was a great fer- 
ment in Cairo; many persons went out to join them- 
selves with him, whilst the Khahf's guards prepared 
for defence. At the head of a large band of followers 
he forced his way across the Nile, defeated the Khalif s 
army, and marched into Cairo where he made his head- 
quarters in the Grey Mosque. There he was joined by 
many of the emirs who brought supplies of men, arms, 
and money. The Khalif assembled his negro troops 
treated them to wine and then, in a half intoxicated 
state, they marched out and demanded the head of 
Rudwan. A great tumult ensued in which the emirs, 
frightened by the apparent ferocity of the negro guard, 
left Rudwan, and his supporters were scattered. 
Rudwan himself was alarmed and went ouf of the 
mosque intending to escape, but his horse which should 
have been at the gate was missing. A young guard 
offered his horse, and as the ex-wazir approached to 
avail himself of this offer, he cut him down. Very 


soon the negroes came up and finished him, then " the 
people of Misr share the morsels of his flesh which they 
eat to give themselves courage" (Derenburg: Vie 
d'Ousama, p. 212), 

This took place in 543 and led to a period of general 
disorder, for the negro troops called out by theKhalif 
soon passed beyond his control, the streets became 
unsafe, and faction fights between the Rayhamites who 
were loyal to the Khalif and the Juyushites, Alexan- 
drians, and Farhites once more broke out just as 
sixteen years before. Again the Tuyusfeites were vic- 
torious, greatly to the annoyance of al-Hafiz who deter- 
mined to revenge himself upon them. But this resolve 
he was not able to carry out as he died in 544. 

Al-Hafiz was an old man at the time of his decease, 
fully seventy-six years, and for some time had been 
in failing health suffering from colic. It is said that 
Shirtn'aih the Daylamite, or else Musa an-Nasran, made 
for him a drum of seven metals, each welded at the 
moment when the appropriate planet was in the 
ascendant, and that this drum when beaten relieved the 
wind from which the Khalif suffered. After his "death 
this drum was preserved in the treasury, but was in- 
cautiously tapped by a Turkish soldier at the time of 
Sala d-Din's conquest, and that he, astonished at the 
surprising result produced, dropped it and it broke to 

The writer Abu Salih describes Hafiz as particularly 
well disposed towards lihe Christians, and especially 
fond of visiting the gardens of some of the monasteries 
near Cairo, where he showed his goodwill by many 
gifts and acts of kindness, He even visited the 
Christian churches, but was careful to enter backwards 
lest the stooping necessitated by the low door-days 
might appear to be an act of reverence to the cross 
whidh stood within. 


(A.H. 543~549=A.D. 

AT the death of Hafiz in October, 1149, i.e., A*H, 543, 
his youngest son Abu Mansur Isma'il az-Zafir li-'Adai 
dinWlah (" the conqueror of the enemies of God's 
religion ") was proclaimed Khalif in accordance with 
the late sovereign's orders. The new Khalif was then 
only sixteen years of age, frivolous in his tastes, and 
much given to the society of concubines and to listening 
to vocal music. One of his first acts was to select 
Najm ad-Din b. Masai as his chief minister, thus dis- 
placing the Emir Sayf ad-Din A.bu 1-Hasan 'Ali as- 
Sallar, whom he sent to a provincial administration. 
This new minister Ibn Masai was a native of Lukk, 
near Barqa, where he and his father had been horse 
breakers and falconers. 

But Ibn Sallar was not disposed to take his deposition 
from office tamely, and soon assembled a band of armed 
supporters to help him to recover the wazirate, When 
the news of this revolt was brought to Cairo the Khalif 
assembled a council of all the emirs of the state and 
discussed with them the measures necessary to be 
, taken. All professed unqualified loyalty to the Kihalif $ 
nominee Ibn Masai, until a certain aged emir proposed 
that, if this profession represented their real attitude, 
they should join in passing a decree of death against 
the ex-wazir Ibn Sallar. This they unanimously re- 
fused to do, " Very well," said the old emir, " then 
act accordingly." At this the council broke up, all the 
emirs leaving the city and joining themselves to the 
party of Ibn as-Sallar, The Khalif gave large sums 
of money to his nominee Ibn Masai, but it was im- 

r'ble to raise any supporters in Cairo. Meanwhile 
as-Sallar was gathering his forces at Alexandria 


and advanced along the left side of the Nile until he 
reached Giza on the I4th of Ramadan, 544, and the 
following day entered Cairo without meeting with any 
resistance and established himself in the official resid- 
ence of the wazir, taking over the control of the affairs 
of state. At Ibn as-Sallar's advance Ibn Masai fled, 
having held office only fifty days, and went to the Hawf 
east of the capital where, with the help of the funds 
supplied by the Khalif, he raised a force of supporters. 
As soon as he was' firmly established in Cairo Ibn as- 
Sallar went out to deal with his rival, but Ibn Masai 
evaded him and took refuge in Upper Egypt whither 
Ibn as-Sellar followed him. A pitched battle took place 
at Dilas, south of Wasta, in which Ibn Masai was 
killed, his forces scattered, and his head cut off to be 
carried to Cairo as a trophy. Thus Ibn as-Sellar was 
left without rival, and the "Khalif was compelled most 
reluctanlly to recognise him as wazir. Naturally the 
young sovereign had no love towards such a minister, 
and almost immediately began to make plots to rid 
himself of him. 

Although wazir under a Fatimid Khalif, Ibn as- 
Sallar was strictly orthodox and gave the whole of his 
patronage to orthodox teachers of the Shafi'ite school. 
This position in Alexandria gained him many adher- 
ents, and their attachment was still more secured by 
his foundation of a Shafi'ite college there. He con- 
tinued the same attitude after his assumption of office 
at Cairo, so that he was regarded by the people of 
Egypt as an orthodox champion against the heretical 
Khalifate. By nature he was cruel and vindictive. An 
anecdote is related of him that when he was in the 
army in the days before he held office he had to apply 
to Ibn Masum, the Secretary of War, for help to defray 
extraordinary expenses incurred by him in the adminis- 
tration of tne province of Ghartiiya, as the result of 
which he found himself heavily in debt. The Secretary 
only replied: "By God, thy discourse entereth not 
my ear," and Ibn as-Sallar left his presence full of 
indignation. Long afterwards, when he had risen to 
a high position, he made search for Ibn Masum, who 
hid himself fearing retaliation froiri the one whom he 
had treated contemptuously as a petitioner. At last 
the Secretary was found and broughl before the wazir 


who had him lain on a board and a nail driven through 
his ear, Ibn as-Sallar asking him at each cry ne 
uttered, " Doth my discourse yet enter thy ear or not? 11 
(Ibn Khali, ii. 351). 

In the plots against the wazir, az-Zafir's chief con- 
fidant was a young man of his own age Nasir ad-Din 
Nasir, the son of the general 'Abbas who, next to the 
wazir, was the most powerful man in Egypt. About 
this time 'Abbas was setting out with an army) against 
the Franks taking with him his son Nasir. For a 
moment we must pause to consider the position of this 
son, the favourite of the young Khalif. Many years 
before, in 503 Bullara, the wife of Abu 1-Futuh had 
come to Egypt with a child 'Abbas. Some time after- 
wards the wazir as-Sallar married her, and in due course 
his step-son 'Abbas grew up and became a general in 
the Egyptian army, and had a son, Nasir, who was 
brought up by his grand-mother in the house of Ibn 
as-Sallar. Now this youth went with the army which 
Ibn as-Sallar was sending against the Franks in the 
company of his father and the Syrian Osama. At 
Bilbays, on the point of quitting the land of Egypt, 
'Abbas can only talk about the delightful climate of 
Egypt, its many beauties, and regret that he is being 
exiled to the comparatively unattractive land of Syria. 
But Osama interrupted his discourse and asked him 
why, if he liked Egypt so much, did he not get rid of 
the wazir Ibn as-Sallar and take the wazirship himself, 
then he would be settled in Egypt permanently. 'Abbas 
gave serious attention to these proposals and brought 
in his son Nasir, and the project was discussed by the 
three, the father 'Abbas presumably being well aware 
of his son's plotting with the Khalif against the wazir 
who had sheltered that son in (his home and was the 
husband of his grand-mother. It was finally agreed 
that Nasir should go back to Cairo and murder the 
wazir. He, as an miriate of the house, would be the 
best able to get into his presence and do the deed 
without premature discovery. So the army remained 
at Bilbays and Nasir returned. The wazir's house was 
guarded, but Nasir was well aware of the minister's 
habits and went direct to the harim which was in a 
detached building. He had brought a small body of 
men with him, and together they went through the 


grounds to the harim, where Nasir found the wazir 
asleep and murdered him. As soon as the guards 
learned what had happened they broke out in disorder 
and began to search for the assassins, but Nasir and 
his men had made good their escape, and the household 
guards seem to have lacked any one to direct their 
plans, now the master was dead. This murder took 
place on the 6th of Muharram, 548. 

As soon as the news was brought to 'Abbas he re- 
turned with his forces to Cairo where he soon restored 
order, and was without delay invested with the office 
of wazir. The change does not seem to have aroused 
any other feelings than relief am'onst the people at 
large, for Ibn as-Sallar had been a harsh and cruel 
ruler, and many had suffered for suspected partisan- 
ship with the defeated Ibn Masai. Early in his period 
of office he had suppressed the Khalif's bodyguard of 
young men, and put most of them to death, and this 
had been the inauguration of an almost constant series 
of executions. 

Thus 'Abbas was made wazir, but this appointment 
resulted in the Khalif's own assassination within the 
next few months. In the circumstances which led to this 
it is clear that the chief factor was a close friendship 
between the Khalif and the wazir's son Nasir, and with 
this was the evil influence of Osama. It is said that 
the Khalif made overtures to Nasir to slay his father 
'Abbas, presumably intending to make the son wazir 
in his place; but the details of this are obscure and 
seem to be very much open to question. It is, however, 
clear that Osama took a leading part in stirring up the 
feelings of 'Abbas and his son and inducing them to 
proceed to this murder, and it is he who definitely states 
that the Khalif had m'ade overtures to Nasir to assassin- 
ate his father, and it seems likely that he says this to 
excuse his own bad advice. 

Both the Khalif and Nasir were of exceptional 
beauty, of about the same age, and living in close in- 
timacy, so close as to provoke the scandalous com- 
ments of censorious tongues. It seems that Osama was 
the first to draw attention to these evil rumours. The 
Khalif had presented Nasir with the fief of Qaliub 
immediately north of Cairo, and in the presence of 
his father and Osama Nasir announced this in the 


words, " Our master has given me the province of 
Qaliub " : at which Osama remarked, "That is not 
splendid as a wedding gift." This remark sounded 
offensive to 'Abbas and his son, and in consequence 
they decided to slay the Khalif. Osama gives 
the further account that Ibn Munqidh said to 'Abbas : 
" How can you endure the evil reports I hear about 
your son ? J ' " What are they ?' ' asked 'Abbas. Osama 
then interposed: "People say that az-Zafir has com- 
merce with thy son and suspect the Khalif of doing 
with him what one does with women." 'Abbas was 
aroused and asked indignantly, " But what can I do?" 
Ibn Munqidh replied, " Assassinate the Khalif, then 
the dishonour will be purged from thee. M Ibn Khalli- 
kan (i. 222), in his life of az-Zafir, states that 'Abbas 
said to his son, " You are ruining your reputation by 
keeping company with az-Zafir; your familiarity with 
him is the subject of public talk; kill him then, for 
it is thus that thou wilt vindicate thy honour from 
these foul suspicions. " 

When Nasir had made up his mind to the murder he 
invited the Khalif to visit him in his house in the 
Armourers 1 Market, and there he concealed a band of 
confederates. On Thursday, the last day of Muharram, 
549 (isth April, 1154), the Khalif went privately with 
a single black slave to Nasir's house and there the 
conspirators fell upon him, slew him, and buried his 
body beneath the floor of the room ; according to Osama 
they slew the black slave at the same time, but this 
does not seem to have been the case as we find the 
slave afterwards showing the place where the body was 
buried. The same night Nasir went to his father and 
informed him of what he had done. 

Next morning 'Abbas went to the palace and asked 
for the Khalif with whom, he said, he had important 
business. The household slaves went in search of him 
but could not find him either in his own rooms or in 
the harim, and brought the wazir word that they were 
unable to find where he was, At this 'Abbas, who 
had remained at the palace gate, dismounted and went 
into the palace with a band of trusty followers and 
asked for the Khalif f s two brothers, Jibrila and Yusuf, 
who were soon brought. According to one account he 
bade one or the other then assume the Khalifate as the 


state could not go on without a head, but they declined. 
" For," they said, "we have no share in the govern- 
ment, az-ZafLr's father disinherited us when he passed 
it to az-Zafir : after him it is to his son that the authority 
belongs " (Osama, op. cit.). According to the much 
more likely account given by Ibn Khallikan 'Abbas 
asked the two brothers where az-Zafir was, and they 
replied that he ought rather to ask his son, thus making 
it clear that they knew whither ihe had gone the night 
before. At once he declared, " These two are his 
murderers," and at his command they were beheaded. 
'Abbas then sent for the late Kfaahf's son al-Fa'iz, 
then aged five (or two) years, set him on his shoulder 
and sent for the emirs. As soon as Ihov had a&sembled 
he said, " Here is the son of your master : his uncles 
have murdered his father, and I put them to death as 
you may perceive. What is essential now is, that the 
authority of this infant should be fully recognised." 
The emirs reply, " We hear and obey." They then 
gave a great shout which so troubled the infant on the 
wazir's shoulder that he was ever afterwards subject 
to fits of trembling (Ibn Khali, n. 425-6). 'Abbas then 
took charge of the government, but subsequent events 
rather belong to the reign of al-Fa'iz. 

Az-Zafir was only twenty-two years of age at his 
death. His tastes had been frivolous, and it would not 
seem that there was much reason to regret him, but 
the circumstances of his murder and the general 
detestation of 'Abbas threw round his memory a halo 
of loyalty. He was the founder of a mosque known as 
the az-Zafiri mosque, near the Bab Zawila. 



(A.II. 549-555= A ** 1154-1160.) 

IN spite of 'Abbas* attempt to throw the guilt of the 
Khalif's murder upon his two brothers, it was well 
known both in the palace and in the city that the wazir 
was the culprit, and both were aroused to the deepest 
indignation. The emirs in the palace almost at once 
began to conspire against the wazir, and decided to 
appeal to as-Salih b" Ruzzik the Armenian, who was 
then governor of Munya Bam Kharib in Upper 
Egypt. The letter they sent was coloured black as a 
sig[n of their deep mourning, and with it they sent their 
hair cut off, the ancient Arab symbol of dire distress, 
As soon as as-Salih received this message he assembled 
the soldiers who were with him, and read the letter to 
them asking whether they were ready to support him. 
They all declared their readiness to follow his lead in 
avenging the Khalif's murder and in liberating the 
young successor from the baleful influence which at 
present overshadowed the throne. With his men as- 
Salih then marched to Cairo. As he approached the 
city all the emirs and their henchmen came out to join 
him as well as many of the citizens, so that 'Abbas 
found himself deserted. At this 'Abbas took to flight, 
accompanied by his son Nasir and the evil counsellor 
Osama, and betook himself to Syria. 

As-Salih was thus able to enter Cairo without 
opposition, which he did on the I4th of Rabi' I. 549 
(May, 1154), and took charge of the government, 
Guided by the young eunuch who had been present at 
the murder of az~Zafir he went to Nasir's house and 
lifted up the stone under which lay the body of the late 
Ktoalif. This he removed and buried in the midst of 
a whole city in mourning, Az-Zafir's sister wrote a 


letter to the Franks at Ascalon, a town which they had 
captured in 548 when the army setting out from Egypt 
under 'Abbas failed to appear, and offered them a 
reward of 60,000 dinars for 'Abbas and his son. This 
reward induced the knights Templars to go out and 
stop 'Abbas on his way to take refuge with the Turks 
in the north : an engagement ensued in which 'Abbas 
was killed and Nasir taken prisoner. The prisoner was 
put into an iron cage and sent with an escort and an 
accredited envoy to Cairo, and the promised reward 
was at once paid, Nasir 's ears and nose were cut off 
and he was paraded through the city and then crucified 
at the Bab Zawila, after which his body was burned 
(on the loth Muharram 551 = March, 1156 A.D.). 
Osama who really was the prime instigator of the 
mischief escaped any punishment. 

In the year of Fa'iz's accession (549) the Turks under 
Nur ad-Din took Damascus and thus began pressing 
on the Franks from the north. The Egyptian wazir 
was very anxious to enter into alliance with Nur ad-Din 
and employed Osama as an intermediary, sending to 
the Turkish Sultan flattering messages, volumes of his 
own poetry, and the promise of substantial assistance. 
But in spite of all these efforts Nur ad-Din, who was 
extremely cautious and deeply suspicious of the 
Egyptians, as well, no doubt, as unsympathetic towards 
the Sbi'ite sect. The Egyptian advances received their 
best endorsement from a victory gained by the Fatimid 
general Dirrfiam over the Franks in 553, but^ even 
then Nur ad-Din hesitated and would not enter into 
any definite engagement. This was undoubtedly a 
mistake, for united action between the Turks and 
Egyptians would probably have definitely cleared out 
the Frank settlers, and any further effectual Prankish 
invasion was impossible in the face of the Turkish 
power now firmly established in the north. 

In 555 the Khalif al-Fa'iz died (on Friday, tyth 
Rajab=July, 1160) whilst in an epileptic fit. 



(A,H, 556 S67-A.D, 

AT the death of al-Fa'iz at the age of eleven years his 
cousin Abu Muhammad 'Abdullah aU'Adid, son of 
Jibril, one of the murdered brothers of az-Zafir, and 
then a child of nine, was proclaimed Khalif , He was 
treated simply as a prisoner of state, as indeed (had 
been the case with his predecessor, and the government 
was entirely in the hands of the wazir as-Salih. But 
as-Salih was not a good ruler; he forestalled provisions 
and artificially raised prices, levied frequent fines, and 
managed to contrive the execution of various of the 
great officers of state whose property was forthwith 
confiscated. Indeed his besetting sin was avarice, and 
the resources of the country were greatly exhausted by 
his constant speculations. At length, in 559, " seduced 
by long prosperity, he neglected the precautions of 
prudence " (Ibn Khali, 330), and plots were formed 
against him. These plots received the support of the 
Khalif, which means in plain words that they were the 
result of harim intrigue as is the case with the majority 
of plots in oriental courts, and the Khalif '& guard was 
told off to act as executioners. One day an attempt 
was made, but one of the guard accidentally locked a 
door he was trying to open, and so the attempt failed, 
A few days later another attempt was made, this time 
with more success, and the wazir was severely wounded* 
His attendants managed to kill the attackers and 
carried the wounded wasir to his palace, where he died 
on Monday, the igtto Ramadan, 559 (Sept., n6i). The 
Khalif visited him on his death-bed, and he gave the 
sovereign the final messages of his office : he regretted 
most that he had not succeeded in taking Jerusalem' 


and expelling the Franks, as they formed the most 
serious problem before the country : and he warned 
his son to beware of Shawar, the governor of Upper 
Egypt, for he was the most dangerous and unscrupu- 
lous rival to the wazir. 

As-Sailh was succeeded in office by his son Abu 
Shuja al-'Adil Ruzzik, but within a year he was 
deposed and executed by Shawar, whose ambition had 
been rightly gauged by as-Salih. But Shawar, who 
was ah Arab by birth/ was distinctly unpopular, and 
within a few months he was driven out by Dirgham, 
who was the favourite of the soldiery and commanded 
the Barqiya brigade. Expelled from Egypt Shawar 
went to Damascus and opens negotiations with Nur 
ad-Din : he represented to him that Egypt was in- 
adequately defended, that it would be an easy conquest, 
and that the union of the Muslim world would be the 
best means of effectually getting rid of the Franks, all 
the arguments already urged by as-Salih with the 
added attractive detail of conquest instead of alliance. 
But Nur ad-Din was ever extremely cautious, and 
moreover he distrusted what he saw of Shawar, who 
was very evidently a wily and treacherous man, but the 
ideas suggested seem to 'have sunk into his mind. 
Meanwhile circumstances began to force the Egyptian 
question on Nur ad-Din's attention by making it more 
or less inevitable that Egypt must fall into the hands 
either of the Nur ad-Din, or else into those of the 
Prankish king of Jerusalem. It seems that a subsidy- 
had been paid by the Fatimids to the Franks, though 
when this began is not recorded. Lane-Poole says that 
it " must have been recently instituted, for Ibn- 
Ruzzik, who died in 1161, assuredly would have paid 
no such subsidy to the 'infidels.' Probably Shawar 
began the payment in 1162, but the fact cannot be 
proved M (Egypt in the Mid. Ages, p. 177, note). At 
any rate Dirgham, seeking for increased popularity and 
confident in the military resources of his country and 
in the decadence of the Franks, stopped this payment 
to Amalric, who was at fihis time king of Jerusalem. 
As a result Amalric invaded Egypt in the following 
year (560). Dirgham went out to m'eet the invaders and 
was severely defeated at Bilbays. But it was then the 
time of the Nile inundation, and Dirgham had the 


dykes cut so that the whole country was very soon 
under water. This made the Franks ready to listen to 
some sort of compromise, and they accepted such pay- 
ment as Dirgham offered and withdrew to Palestine. 
Shortly after their retirement Dirgham was informed 
of Shawar's intrigues at Damascus, and he at once 
perceived that his wisest plan was to conclude an 
alliance with Amalric so that he could count on 
Prankish help against a Turkish invasion. No doubt 
this project was known to Nur ad-Din, although 
Amalric's recent attempt was enough to force his hand, 
and he decided to take Shawar's advice and send an 
expedition into Egypt. At the head of the army 
despatched by Nur ad-Din was the Turkish general 
Shirkuh, with his nephew Salah ad-Din (Saladm), as 
his lieutenant, and with him was Shawar as guide and 

Dirgham held Bilbays against the Turks, but was 
defeated, though able to re-assemble his forces for the 
defence of Cairo. Shirkuh was able to gam possession 
of Fustat, but the fortified Kahira was held by Dirgham 
and he was able to resist all the Turkish attacks made 
upon it. Then Dirgham, who relied most on the 
popularity he enjoyed amongst the soldiers, sorely 
pressed for funds, laid hands on the waqf or " pious 
bequests, " a comprehensive term which in a Muslim 
land includes all property left in trust for religious and 
allied purposes, the salaries of the mosque officials, the 
alms bequeathed for distribution amongst the widows 
and orphans and pilgrims, the lands left for the upkeep 
of the mosques and schools, even the copies of 
Qur'ans presented to a mosque for the use of wor- 
shippers and teachers contain on the fly-leaf an in- 
scription declaring them waqf for such and such a 
mosque; indeed the term includes everything held in 
trust for religious, charitable, or educational purposes, 
and in a country like Egypt this implies a very vast 
total, to-day administered under the supervision of a 
important department of the state. The actual 
seizure of this property by Dirgham, an act almost 
without precedent in Islam, caused a general revulsion 
of feeling amongst soldiers and people and practically 
ruined Dirgham's cause at once. Tbe army deserted 
him and the Khalif followed their ledd ; only a body- 


guard of 500 men was left to the wazir. Conscious pi 
his mistake Dirgham 1 sought too late to try to repair it. 
For hours he stood in the great square before the 
Khalif J s palace with his faithful bodyguard and called 
out like a petitioner for the Khalif 's pardon and help, 
but without any reply being sent out to him. Then he 
noticed that even as he stood -there his men were 
gradually stealing away from him, until at last only 
thirty were left. Suddenly a cry was raised that the 
besiegers had broken through the fortifications and had 
entered the royal city, which indeed was the case, the 
Turkish host riding in by the Bab al-Qantara leading 
from Jawhar's bridge over the canal into Kafur^ 
garden, and at this news Dirgham turned away and 
rode out through the Bab az-Zuwila on the south. But 
this road took him through part of the old city and he 
was recognised by the citizens, pulled from his horse, 
and beheaded. His head was paraded through the 
streets and reviled by all, for the mediaeval Muslim 
had no sympathy with ecclesiastical disendowment, 
whilst the body was left lying on the ground until it 
was eaten by the city dogs. 

The expedition, though led by Shirkuh, had pro- 
fessedly been to restore Shawar to the wazirate, and 
now established in office Shawar only desired to get rid 
of the Turks. He kept Shirkuh out of the royal city, 
entirely refused to allow him any share in the results 
of the conquest, and declined to pay the expected in- 
demnity. He felt, no doubt, that the decisive factor 
had been the revolt against Dirgham rather than the 
help of the Turks. But Shirkuh was not a likely 

Eerson to suffer this conduct with impunity, and sent 
is nephew Saladin to occupy Bilbays and thus hold 
the Sharqiya or eastern province, one of the four great 
divisions of Egypt, the other three being Gharbiya or 
the western province, Qus or Upper Egypt, and 
Alexandria or Lower Egypt. This move on the part 
of Shirkuh moved Shawar to appeal to Am'alric, and 
an army of Franks marched down to besiege Bilbays. 
The siege lasted three months and then Amalric was 
obliged to retire and call an armistice as the Turkish 
hosts of Nur ad-Din were proceeding south to the relief 
of Saladin. It was agreed that the body of Syrians 
occupying Bilbays should be allowed to evacuate 


without interference, and they marched out between the 
armies of the Egyptians and the Franks. For the 
moment matters had produced a stale-mate, but 
Shirkuh was fully convinced that Egypt could be con- 
quered without much difficulty, and that this would be 
the right way to check the Franks effectually. Nur 
ad-Din, with characteristic caution, hesitated over so 
great an undertaking which would necessitate the 
employment of his forces in the far south and leave the 
Prankish kingdom of Jerusalem between his capital and 
the bulk of his army, but tl^e project was warmly 
espoused by the Kfaalif of Baghdad, and at length Nur 
ad-Din acquiesced and a new expedition started from 
Damascus in the early part of 562. 

This new force was under the command of Shirkuh 
who had his nephew Saladin with him as before, but 
this time he was free from the presence of the treacher- 
ous Shawar. They took the desert route so as to avoid 
the Franks by a long detour and thus reached the Nile 
at Atfih some forty miles south of Cairo, the ancient 
Aphroditopolis just north of Wasta, and there crossed 
the river and commenced the journey down along the 
west side. Hardly had Shirkuh crossed than the 
Franks who had heard of the expedition and followed 
close after appeared on the other side of the Nile and, 
not venturing to cross in face of the enemy marched 
along the east side, the two armies keeping pace one 
with the other, the river between. Both pushed on 
to Cairo where Amalric encamped near Fustat, Shirkuh 
at Gizeh. The Prankish king took advantage of these 
circumstances to insist on a clearer understanding with 
Shawar, and to see that the terms of the agreement 
made with him' were duly ratified by the Khalif. It 
was contrary to all precedent for a foreign and non- 
Muslim prince to pay a personal visit to the Imam, but 
Amalric insisted, and at length the wazir assented. 
William of Tyre has left a graphic description of that 
visit, and of the astonishing splendours of the palace 
to which Amalric and his companions were admitted. 
There he had an interview with the Khalif, a young 
Egyptian of dark colour, the terms of the treaty were 
recited, that Egypt was to pay 200,000 pieties of gold 
at once, and 200,000 pieces later, whilst Amalric on 
tis side was to expel the Syrians, Both parties 


assented and then Amalric held out his right hand to 
grasp that of the Khalif whilst a shudder passed round 
the court at this apparent profanity. After a brief 
hesitation the Khalif also held out his hand covered 
with a glove. But Amalric exclaimed that as an honest 
man he preferred to lake the prince's hare hand; at 
this again the court suffered a shock of horror, but 
the Khalif drew off his glove and grasped the rough 
hand of the Prankish king. 

Amalric desired now to come to grips with the 
Syrians immediately and began constructing a bridge 
of boats across the Nile> but this was easily prevented 
by the Syrians. Amalric then marched his men by 
night down the river to where it divided at the com- 
mencement of the Delta, and there he managed to cross 
without great difficulty, appearing next morning on 
the west or left side. At once Shirkuh began retreating 
southwards towards Upper Egypt closely followed by 
the Franks. Amalric overtook the enemy at al-Babayn 
near Oshmunayn about ten miles south of Mima, and 
there Shirkuh halted and made ready for battle. In 
the middle he placed his baggage and on the flank he 
stationed Salah ad-Din with orders to retreat as soon 
as the Franks commenced the attack, so that they might 
be drawn off and the Egyptians dealt with alone whilst 
the Franks were separated from tihern. These tactics 
were followed, and whilst Saladin was leading away 
the Franks and skilfully evading them, the Egyptians 
were completely routed by the main body of Syrians. 
As soon as the Franks perceived that their allies were 
defeated they began to retreat and abandoned thteir 
baggage to the Syrians, so this was a definite victory 
for Shirkuh. 

The Syrian leader now began marching back along 
the left bank of the river but did not continue to follow 
that route, breaking westwards along the desert route 
to Alexandria which in due time he reached and took, 
appointing Saladin governor and leaving an adequate 
body to support him whilst he retired towards Upper 
Egypt which he began to lay waste. The Franks had 
followed as soon as they could, and the allied Franks 
and Egyptians laid siege to Alexandria. For some time 
Saladin defended the city with vigour, but the citizens 
of Alexandria were very soon in revolt against the 


military occupation and the inconveniences inevitable 
from a state of siege. Alexandria was then, as now, a 
cosmopolitan town, largely Levantine in population, 
and essentially a community of merchants, the type 
least likely to be patient in enduring the restrictions 
and dangers of a siege. When their discontent broke 
out in open revolt Salah ad-Din sent to his uncle 
Shirkuh for relief, and in response he laid siege to 
Cairo. The news of this counter move induced Amalric 
to raise the siege of Alexandria and march to the relief 
of Cairo, first making terms with Salah ad-Din. It 
is very difficult to discover the real nature of the terms 
under which Alexandria was abandoned by the Franks 
as both sides claimed that the operations ended in a 
victory for themselves. It seems clear that Alexandria 
was handed over to Shawar which was a score for the 
Franks : at the same time Amalric paid 50,000 pieces 
of gold. So far it probably was a bargain struck 
between the two forces in wihich we may regard the 
city as ransomed for 50,000 pieces of gold. But it 
seems that the Franks left a garrison there and increased 
the subsidy paid by the Egyptians to 100,000 pieces of 
gold. No doubt the right interpretation is that, after 
the bargain had been made between Amalric and 
Saladin, the Syrians made these new terms with 
Shawar to his disadvantage. 

After this, in the latter part of the year, Shirkuh 
retired to Damascus. This seems to suggest that the 
Turks and Syrians had abandoned the projected con* 

Siest of Egypt. But Amalric saw quite clearly that 
e possession of Egypt was the crucial point in the 
struggle between the Franks and the Muslims, and 
himself planned to steal a march on Nur ad-Din and 
conquer Egypt for himself- With this end in view (he 
raised new forces and again entered Egypt in 564, 
taking Bilbays and slaughtering the inhabitants. This 
was a more serious danger to the Egyptians than any- 
thing which had happened before, and at once the 
grouping of parties was changed by new alliances. 
Now Shawar made alliance with Nur ad-Din and 
invited the Turkish-Syrian army to come to the rescue. 
Before any result could be arranged the Franks had 
pressed on and were threatening Cairo. To save the 
city from falling into the hands of the enemy the 



Egyptians determined to set fire to the ancient Fustat 
and abandon it, the newer Kahira was strongly fortified 
and could (hold out on its own account. This plan was 
carried ont. For fifty-four days the fire raged in 
Fustat abandoned by all its population, and nothing 
lay before the invaders but charred ruins and the Old 
Mosque, and a few other buildings which more or less 
resisted the conflagration. 

Meanwhile Amalric obtained possession of the 
country and encamped before Cairo. The crafty 
Shawar managed to deceive him and induced him lo 
consider suggested terms which served to delay 
operations whilst Shirkuh was collecting a new force 
and preparing to come to the relief of the Egyptians, 
nor was Amalric undeceived until Shirkuh arrived and 
joined the Egyptians. At this the Franks retired and 
Shirkuh entered Cairo and then made camp outside. 
Day by day visits of compliment were exchanged 
between Shawar and the Turkish leader, but Shawar 
constantly postponed the payment of the money ex- 
pected and promised for Shirkuh's help and, judging 
from his knowledge of the irian Shirkuh was convinced 
that he was trying to play off the Frank and the Syrian 
against one another. At a conference of his generals 
Shirkuh announced that it was of primary importance 
to put an end to this state of affairs and recommended 
that Sfaawar should be seized and held prisoner. No 
one was ready to take the first step in the execution of 
this proposal until Saladin volunteered to do it with 
his own hands. Soon afterwards Shawar was seen 
coming with a train of attendants to pay one of his 
customary visits. Salalh ad-Din with nis guard rode 
out to meet him, and as they rode side by side he 
suddenly grasped Shawar's collar and pulled him off 
his horse, at the same time ordering his men to fall 
on the attendants of the wazir. Shawar was then taken 
to a tent and held prisoner. For some time Shirkuh 
was doubtful what the result of this measure would be, 
then an embassy came from the Khalif bringing the 
official pelisse, the outward badge of the wazirate, to 
Shirkuh and asking for the head of Shawar. This was 
equivalent to appointing Shirkuh as ruler of Egypt, 
and was a final and definite step in ending the inde- 
pendent existence of the Fatimid KJhalifate and estab- 


lishing the suzerainty of Nur ad-Din, whose servant 
Shirkuh was. On Wednesday, the i?th of Rabi' II. 
565, Shirkuh was formally invested as wazir, and 
aroused popular enthusiasm by permitting a general 
looting of Shawar's palace. Shirkuh, however, held 
office only two months and died on Saturday, 28th of 
Jumada II., being succeeded in his office by his 
nephew Saladin. Soon afterwards Aiyub, Saladin's 
father arrived in Egypt, and his son offered to resign 
his appointment to his father, but Aiyub refused to 
accept this sacrifice and urgeH his son to continue in 
the exercise of the functions which he had received) as 
tlhe most trusty and efficient lieutenant of his uncle 

Two years later (567) a message was received from 
Nur ad-Din ordering the khutba in Egypt to be 
changed and the name of the 'Abbasid Khalif to be 
used in place of the Fatimid. Saladin hesitated fearing 
a revolt of the people at this termination of the Egyptian 
Khalifate and proclamation of their being incorporated 
in the Khalifate of Baghdad. But fresh orders from 
Damascus insisted. In Cairo there was much reluct- 
ance amongst Saladin's officers to venture on this 
change, but at length a Persian visitor named al-Amir 
al-Aahin offered to ascend the pulpit next Friday and 
pronounce the new khutba, and this was accepted. On 
the following Friday the Persian did so, and no single 
word of protest was uttered : the Fatimid dynasty fell 
without being the object of more than private comment, 
and Egypt acquiesced in the change without discussion 
or even taking any particular notice. At the moment the 
Khalif al-'Auid was ill and confined to his rooms. The 
members of Saladin's suite debated whether he ought 
to be informed of the change, but it was agreed mat 
if he recovered it would then be time enough to tell 
him, and if he did not recover he might as well die in 
peace without knowing that his dynasty had fallen. 
Shortly afterwards he died in this peaceful ignorance. 

This surprisingly commonplace end of the Fatimids 
is a striking comment on their history. As organised 
by 'Abdullah b. Maymun the Isma'ilian sect was a 
secret society, and this society had .established an 
empire in which it ruled over subjects who, though 
loyal to their rulers as political sovereigns, were totally 


out of sympathy with the society's known or supposed 
aims. So far as these had become prominent from time 
to time they had only produced difficulties and friction, 
most pronounced in tine incidents connected with al- 
HaJrim; the wiser and saner advisers of the throne 
undoubtedly made it their aim to push the sectarian 
element into the background, or get rid of it altogether. 
Yet all through the history of Egypt, at least up to 
tfce time of al-Mustansir, that sectarian element was 
very distinctly present and the Fatimid Khalif as the 
pontiff of the Isma'ihans was visited by pilgrims from 
Persia, Arabia, and other parts. As a sectarian move- 
ment the Fatimid adventure had two off-shoots which 
are still to some extent living forces. The Druses of 
the Lebanon still form a vigorous and flourishing 
community of no small political importance. Their 
religious tenets have been long a secret, though many 
details have leaked forth; but now there is a 
" modernist IJ party, chiefly of the younger men, 
amongst the Druses, and these desire to reveal their 
religious beliefs more fully feeling that secrecy has only 
tended to misrepresentation of their community, and 
believing that the moral ideals which they hold together 
with their combination of agnostic and pantheistic 
doctrine furnishes a religious system likely to gain 
many converts at the present time. How far these 
m'odernists will succeed in divulging their beliefs, and 
how far their movement will receive the sympathy of 
the heads of tte sect remains to be seen. It is under- 
stood that Dr. Bliss of Beirut will be the probable 
intermediary of communication with ihe western world 
if this disclosure takes place. 

The second important off-shoot is that of the 
Assassins. The Syrian branch of the Assassins was 
completely exterminated, and the great headquarters at 
Alamut was destroyed by Hhe Turks, but besides these 
two greater branches there were many minor groups 
of the sect which have lived out a secluded existence 
scattered in various parts of central Asia and India, 
and undoubtedly exist at the present day. As late as 
1866 an English judge in Bombay was called upon to 
decide a succession case according to the jurisprudence 
of the Assassins. Prof, Browne states, e * remnants of 
the sect, as I was informed by a very intelligent and 


observant Babi dervish of Kirman, of whom I saw a 
great deal when I was in Cairo in the early part of the 
year 1903, still exist in Persia, while in India (under 
the name of ' Khojas ' or ' Khwajas ') and Chitral 
(under the name of ' Mullas '), as well as in Zanzibar, 
Syria, and elsewhere, they still enjoy a certain influence 
and importance, though it requires a great effort of 
imagination to associate their present pontiff, the genial 
and polished Agha Khan, with the once redoubtable 
Grand Masters of Alamut and the ' Old Man of the 
Mountain ' c Le Vieux ' of Marco Polo's quaint narra- 
tive " (Browne : Literary Hist, of Persia, p. 460), 

As a political force the Fatimids rapidly vanished. 
In the great struggle between Franks and Turks they 
had for a while hindered the co-operation of the 
Muslims under Turkish leadership, and perhaps had 
contributed to the weakness which had allowed the 
establishment of a Prankish kingdom in Jerusalem, 
though this weakness would be sufficiently explained 
by the fact that the earlier Turkish migration west- 
wards had just ceased, and the greater movement 
which followed had not yet begun. When Saladin 
swept aside the remnants of the Fatimid Khalifate it 
disappeared without leaving any appreciable mark on 
contemporary history. 

On the religious history of Islam the Fatimids left 
even less impression. They were entirely excluded from 
the theological life of the Muslim community, save 
that they probably contributed to the strong disfavour 
with which the orthodox regarded philosophical and 
scientific studies as these took a suspected colour by 
reason of the sympathy with which the Shi'ites gener- 
ally, and the Isma'ilians in particular had regarded 



A FEW words may be added to define more plainly the 
part taken by the Fatimid Khalifate in the general 
course of history. So long as the Fatimite movement 
merely took the form of a sectarian body in Asia it had 
hardly more than a local interest, and even the form- 
ation of a Fatimid Khalifateat Kairawan does no more 
than illustrate the disintegration of the empire ot the 
Khalifs of Baghdad. But the conquest of Egypt 
brought the Fatimids into relation with a wider world 
and induced them, unwisely no doubt, to venture on 
the conquest of Syria. It is a question how far the 
power ruling in Egypt ever can be free from Syria : the 
ancient Pharaohs were drawn into Egyptian expedi- 
tions, and the two lands have been closely involved one 
with the other ever since : nearly always Syria has 
proved the grave in which the prospects and hopes of 
Egypt have been buried. In Uhe days of the Fatimids 
Syria was the battle ground of the Near East, and 
every country from Byzantium to the Oxus was more 
or less drawn into the conflicts there, whilst in the 
later part of the period the whole of Christendom, 
except Spain, was involved : and every power of East 
or West found there either severe loss or total ruin. 
The whole course of the history of the 9-1 2th centuries 
of the Christian era shows the gradual sucking in of 
Muslim and Christian powers to this maelstrom, and 
in every case with disastrous results. 

The whole period of the Fatimid Khalifate, from the 
first formation of the parent sect or conspiracy to the 
final downfall before Salah ad-Din, may be divided con- 
veniently into three periods; (i) the rise of the 
Isnia'ilian sect and the establishment of a Khalifate 


claiming Fatimid descent at Kairawan, (ii) the con- 
quest of Egypt and the period of more or less pros- 
perous rule over Egypt and Syria, and (lii) the period 
of decay under the attacks of the Saljuq Turks ISd 
the Crusaders to its final downfall. 

(i) The Formation of the Fatimid Khalifate. (A.H. 
260 356=A.D. 873966.) 

This was the period during which the Isma'ilian sect 
was founded, spread to North Africa, and a Khalifate 
was established at Kairawan. It was a time during 
which the Khalifate of Baghdad was passing through 
a course of rapid decay : under no other circumstances 
would such progress on the part of the Isma'ilis have 
been possible. The Khalif Harunu r-Rashid died in 
193 (=808) whilst actually proceeding against a re- 
bellious son in Khurasan. His death was followed by a 
civil war at the end of which his rebellious son was 
established as Khalif, but soon afterwards in 205 (=820) 
Khurasan was practically lost to the Khalifate and 
passed into the hands of the independent dynasty of 
the Tahirites, who ruled nominally in the Khialifs 
name but paid him no obedience. Tahir himself was 
an Arab, but his supporters were mainly Persians, and 
this begins the period of Persian political supremacy 
which lasted until the rise of the Turks in the middle 
of the 4th cent. The Saffarids who ruled in Khurasan 
from 260 to 290 A.H. were purely Persian, andTfo were 
the Samanids who arose in 288 and ruled until 400. All 
these maintained themselves in the east, but in 320 
(=932) the Buwayhids, a Daylamite tribe from the 
shores of the Caspian Sea came down into the very 
heart of the Khalifate, and from 344 until 447 con- 
trolled Baghdad, holding the Khalif as an ornamental 
figure to adorn the pageant of state. Not only were 
these Buwayhids Persians but, like the Saffarids and 
Samanids, they were Shi'ites, not themselves recognis- 
ing the Khalif as the true ruler of Islam, but using 
him simply as a tool to give effect to their rule over 
those who did. This was the golden period of Arabic 
philosophy and literature. 

In North Africa the Aehlabid dynasty of Zairawan 
went down before the followers of the Fatimid Mahdi, 
who increased in power and prosperity until they con* 
quered Egypt in 356. Only in the far West the rival 


Kihahfate of Cordova held its own, minor independent 
states were formed in the further parts of North Africa, 
and in Sicily a popular movement declared for the 
orthodox Khalif of Baghdad. 

During all this time Islam hardly enters into the 
political history of Europe, save in Spain. The 
Byzantine Empire held its own owing to the weakness 
of Islam' : the Latin Empire was in process of dis- 
intregation and new states were being formed in the 
west. Almost contemporaneously two sturdy races 
begin to appear at points far removed, the Turks who 
are gradually filtering across the Oxus into Persia and 
becoming Muslims, and the Northmen who are settling 
on the sea-board of the North- West of Europe and 
becoming Christians. 

(ii) The Golden Age of the Fatimids. (A.H. 356 469 
=A.D. 966 1076.) 

During the period of the decay of the Abbasid 
Khalifate the Fatimids were able to seize an important 
part of the Abbasid dominions and make themselves 
rulers of Palestine and Syria, with more or less inter- 
mittent control over Arabia. At this time the three 
leading powers in the Near East ,were the Khalifate 
of Baghdad, the Fatimid Khalifate of Egypt, and the 
Byzantine Empire, but of these three the Fatimid 
Khalifate of Egypt, and the Byzantine Empire, but of 
these three the Fatimid Khalifate was the most vigorous 
and aggressive. Under Karl the Great the Western 
Empire had assumed a kind of protectorate over the 
Christians in Palestine, but in Fatimid rimes this had 
become obsolete. The two rival Khalif ates were 
separated by a wide gulf of religious difference, how 
wide cannot be appreciated without following the 
history of the formation and development of the Fatimid 
Khalifate. Both made overtures to the Greeks, but 
the relations of Byzantium with the Muslim world 
generally turned on questions connected with Fatimid 
rule : Fatimids and Greeks faced one another in North 
West Syria, and it was only in Sicily that the Greeks 
had to deal with the Baghdad Khalifate. Before the 
beginning of this period Crete which had fallen into 
the hands of the Muslims in A.D. 825, was recovered 
(in A.D. 961) : Sicily, conquered by the Muslims 
between A.D. 827 and 878, remained in their hands but, 


after the Fatimid conquest of North Africa it revolted 
and gave in its allegiance to the Khalifate of Baghdad. 
North Africa was divided amongst various Muslim 
groups, and Spain was fully occupied with its own 
problems. In A.D. 1038 Byzantium lost control over 
North Syria, so that on the whole the Greeks were 
receding before the Muslims. In A.D. 1029 (=A.H. 419) 
there was, however, a modus vi vendi reached between 
the Fatimids and the Greeks by which, in return for 
help during famine, the Muslims were allowed to have 
a mosque in Constantinople provided prayer was offered 
there for the Fatimid Khalif, and, apparently, the 
Christians were allowed freedom to visit Jerusalem. The 
persecution of Christians under Hakim had culminated 
in the destruction of the church of the Holy Sepulchre 
in A.D. 1009, but this was re-built soon afterwards : the 
persecution was an isolated incident : in Muslim lands 
generally neither Christians nor Jews suffered any 
serious disabilities, the penal laws were long obsolete, 
and the only penalty enforced was against a Muslim 
who became a convert to another religion. An ad- 
ditional tax had to be paid by non-Muslim's, but this 
was in lieu of military service from which they were 

The real stirring of (history lay in the extreme east 
and west, in the rise of the Turks and of the Normans, 
both gradually converging upon western Asia and at 
the close of this period are both approaching- Syria, 
bringing even greater disasters to their co-religionists 
than to those whom they regarded as their foes. During 
the period under present consideration boUh were 
already in this arena in small numbers, employed as 
mercenarievS by all the three Near Eastern powers, 
Turkish soldiers of fortune serving under the Khalifs 
of Baghdad and under the Fatimids of Egypt, North- 
men serving in the employ of the Emperors of 
Byzantium, but neither Turks nor Northmen had as yet 
moved in in sufficiently large numbers -to become 
independent factors in politics. 

The first assertion of the Turks appears in the career 
of Mahm'ud of Ghazna. Turkish soldiers had been 
employed by the Samanide of Khurasan, and one of 
these, Alptekin, was made governor of Khurasan, but 
at a disputed succession in the house of Semani he 


unfortunately took the side of the candidate who proved 
unsuccessful and so had to flee the country. With a 
body of followers he established himself in the moun- 
tain fortress of Ghazna (in A.H. 350=A.D. 961), and 
there (he and his son Sebektakin held their own, 
nominally as vassals of the Samanids, really as an 
independent brigand state. The third ruler of Ghazna, 
Mahmud, declared himself independent in 390 (=999), 
and received investiture directly from the Khalif of 
Baghdad, assuming the title of Sultan, a title which 
he was the first to introduce into the community of 
Islam. Mahmud of Ghazna is one of the brilliant 
figures of history, but one whose importance can easily 
be over-estimated, In a series of twelve expeditions to 
India he won both fame and booty, but was not in any 
real sense a conqueror of India. In A.H. 407 (=AD.D 
1016) he extended his power northwards to the shores 
of the Caspian Sea, and here before lone 1 he was 
brought into contact with other kinsmen of his own, 
Turk sliving across the Oxus, and it was the advance 
of these Turks led by the Saljuq tribe which, in his 
son's days, cut off the Sultanate of Ghazna from Persia 
and the West and compelled the Ghazni dynasty to 
turn its attention eastwards. This led to the found- 
ation of a Muslim state in India which, under the 
successive rule of Turks, Afghans, and Mongols, (had a 
continuous existence to the time of the Indian Mutiny 
in the igth cent. Although Mahmud and his followers 
were Turks he gave the civil administration mainly 
into the hands of Persian officials, and thus Persian 
became the court language of Muslim India, though 
Arabic was sometimes employed in important charters, 
both foreign languages to rulers and subjects; and 
thus, when the native Hindi began to be used as a 
literary medium it appeared as a language which, 
though thoroughly Hindi in structure and grammar, 
had a vocabulary full of Persian and Arabic words, 
and in this form is known as Urdu or Hindustani. 
Thus Indian history, through the pushing eastwards 
of the Ghazni Turks by the advance of the Saljuqs, 
connects with the history of the .West. 

The Persian dynasties of the Saffarids, Samanids, 
and Daylamites were Shi'ite in religion, but the Turks 
were Sunni, that is to say " orthodox " in the sense 


of adhering- to the traditional school which was in 
communion with the official Khalifate of Baghdad, so 
that when they came westwards they came as its 
champions, in contrast to the Normans who were un- 
friendly towards the Greek Church. 

The Saljuq Turks migrated from Turkistan to Balkh 
about 345 (=A.D. 956), and there accepted Islam, They 
settled on the farther side of the Oxus about 20 
parasangs from the town of Balkh, and there they were 
found by Mahmud of Ghazna. He removed then to 
the near side of the Oxus and distributed them through 
the province of Khurasan where, as they were broken 
up into small groups, they were harshly treated, and 
plundered until a body of 2,000 fugitives fled to 
Ispahan for protection. The governor there wished to 
employ them in the army, but Mahmud sent orders 
that they were to be imprisoned and their property 
confiscated, and followed up these orders by sending a 
force to scatter them. After this they took to brigand- 
age under a leader nam'ed Tughril, and finally were 
pardoned by Mahmud on condition that they reduced 
the whole province of Khurasan to obedience to him. 
This work they took in hand but, in the days of Masud, 
the successor of Mahmud, they were able to establish 
their own independence and compelled the Sultan of 
Ghazna to abandon all control over Persia and turn 
his attention eastwards (Ibn Khali, iii. 224-2a6x). 

The Saljuqs were now so prominent that al-Qa'im 
the Khalif of Baghdad sent to Tughril as a loyal Sunni 
to deliver him from the tyranny of the Buwaybids. 
In response Tughril marched to Baghdad and formally 
restored the temporal power of the Khalif in 447 
(=A.D. 1055), though this soon meant simply that the 
Khalif was under the guardianship of a Saljaq Turk 
instead of a Daylamite Buwayhid; though there was 
this mudh gain, that the Saljuqs were /theoretically 
orthodox supporters of the Abbasid Khalifate. 

The Saljuqs were now established as the champions 
and defenders of the Baghdad Khalifate, Under 
TughriPs successor, Alp Arslan, they came into direct 
conflict with both the Fatimids and the Greeks. By 
437 (=A.n. 1068) they were in possession of Georgia 
and Armenia, and had become a very serious and 
pressing menace to the Byzantine Empire, A few 


years later the Emperor Romanus IV. was totally 
defeated by them in 460 (=A.D. 1071), and all Asia 
Minor lay open to the Turks, though the Saljuq 
position there was insecure until they took Antioch 
from the Greeks. Alp Arslan was succeeded by Mala'h 
Shah who, in the course of 467477 (=A.D. 1074-1084) 
established the Saljuq power in Asia Minor, and in 
469 conquered Jerusalem from the Fatimids, so that 
practically the Saljuq Sultan, theoretically the Com- 
mander-in-Chief serving under the Khalif of Baghdad, 
was the master of all Western Asia, This brings us 
to the close of the second period and to the end of the 
golden age of the Fatimids. 

Meanwhile in the West the Normans, destined to be 
the protagonists of the Saljuq Turks, were becoming a 
leading power in another way. In 1038 we find them 
serving in Sicily, in 1040 they were conquering Apulis, 
and soon afterwards they began minor encroachments 
on the Byzantine Empire. Their chief settlement, 
Normandy, dates from 911, and it is significant that 
this was one year after the foundation of the Abbey of 
Cluny, from which proceeded a religious reformation 
which found its warmest supporters in the Normans* 
When Pope Leo IX. made an expedition against the 
Normans in Apulia and was defeated by them, his 
greatest surprise came in finding his victorious enemies 
ready to pay him a reverent loyalty far beyond any- 
thing he had previously experienced. The recently 
converted Normans were no less definite in their 
orthodoxy as Christians th#n the recently converted 
Saljuqs in their orthodoxy as Muslims. 

It is, no doubt, impossible to regard the Crusades as 
entirely religious ,in their spirit and Character, but it 
is equally impossible to ignore the fact that religious 
motives played a very large part in their history. We 
may venture to say that they commenced under the 
influence of (he Cluniac reformation, and that most of 
those who took part in the First Crusade, if they had 
any regard for religion at all, accepted the Cluniac 
standards : whilst the Second Crusade was still more 
definitely associated with the Cistercian order, itself an 
after-math of the Cluniac reformation. The attitude of 
the Latin clergy towards the Greek Church was exactly 
the same as that of the Cistercian missionaries towards 


the native Keltic clergy of Ireland a few years later : 
wherever religion enters into the programme of the 
Crusaders it is always treated according to Cluniac 
standards, and everything is disapproved which does 
not conform to those standards. The Normans and 
Burgundians formed the most loyal contingent of those 
who contended for Cluniac ideals, and they, the 
Normans especially, formed the real nucleus of the 
First Crusade. The Crusading movement cannot be 
separated from the Cluniac reformation. 

In referring to the Clumacs we do not confine the 
term to those who were actually monks in the Abbey 
of Cluny, nor even to those in the priories which were 
in obedience to Cluny, but extend it to all those 
portions of the Latin Church which followed the 
leadership of Cluny in the way of church reform and 
saw the ideal Christianity in the Cluniac programme, 
an ideal of which we have the fullest expression in the 
writings of S. Peter Damian. These reformers were 
loyal to the Papacy, but to an idealised Papacy re- 
constructed on Cluniac lines ; they were outspoken in 
their criticism of the actual Papacy and its entourage 
as it existed in the loth cent. Incidentally Rome ceased 
to be the chief place of pilgrimage, not because there 
was any repugnance felt towards Rome or the Papal 
court, but because, in conformity with the spirit of 
Clung, a greater emphasis was laid upon the suffering 
Christ, and tihus greater prominence was given to the 
sites connected with the Passion : thus Palestine tended 
to become a " Holy Land,'* and Jerusalem itself the 
chief object .of the pilgrim's devotion. Thus, early in 
the nth century, the thoughts of the leading and most 
vigorous element in the Latin Church began to turn 
towards Jerusalem and predisposed men to regard the 
liberation of the holy sites of Palestine from infidel 
rule as a work of piety. 

In 1074 Pope Gregory VIL, himself a product of the 
Cluniac movement, laid a programme of reform before 
a council assembled at Rome ; the liberation of Jeru- 
salem did not actually figure in this programme, but 
later in the same year (on Dec. 7) we find it expressed 
in a letter to Henry IV. (cf. Oregon Pp. VII. Epist. 
11. 31, in Jaffe: Mon. Greg., pp. 14415* but a previous 
suggestion had been made by Silvester II. as tar back 


as 999). No doubt the news of the Saljuq advance into 
Asia Minor had something to do with (his proposal, the 
report of vast numbers of " Christians living beyond 
the seas " slain by " the pagans " so that the Christian 
community was reduced to nothing (id. p. 145), but the 
chief point was that Gregory and his party looked at 
the world through a Cluniac medium and so to them 
Palestine was the " Holy Land," and it was a terrible 
thought that the sacred sites of Christ's passion were 
in the hands of unbelievers. The violent storms 
aroused by the reforming programme of 1074, however, 
prevented any action being taken in this direction. 

(iii) Third Period. Fatimid decline. (A.H. 469 564 
=A.D. 10761168.) , 

When Urban II. became Pope in 1087 events had 
moved forward with startling rapidity. In 1076 Jeru- 
salem' had fallen into the hands of the Saljuqs, nd the 
Byzantine Empire was practically deprived of all its 
Asiatic possessions, so that both Egypt and Byzantium 
were at bay. In this desperate crisis the Greeks made 
an appeal to the West, and this was laid before two 
councils assembled in the year 1095, the one at Piacenza 
in March, the other at Clermont-Ferrand in November* 
and from 1 these councils proceeded the First Crusade. 

At the moment the three great powers in the Near 
East were the Byzantine Empire, the Fatimid Khalifate, 
and the Saljuq Sultanate, but of these the two former 
were on the defensive and steadily losing ground; the 
Fatimids had just suffered tihe loss of Jerusalem, the 
Greeks had lost North- West Syria and practically all 
of Asia Minor. The Saljuqs were the leading military 
power and held the Khalifate of Baghdad absolutely 
in subjection, but they already snowed signs of 
decline, their empire was beginning to be divided 
amongst provincial rulers known as atabegs, and these 
were getting to be more or less independent of the 
central authority : it was the old story of the Khalifate 
over again. Both in Cairo and in Baghdad the real 
power was in the hands of the wazir or prime minister. 

In 1097 the First Crusade came east : its advent was 
hailed by Byzantium and by the Fatimids, both be- 
lieving that it would prove a check to the Saljuqs. The 
Greeks were the first to be undeceived, and soon found 
that the Crusaders were extremely undesirable neigh- 


hours. The Fatimids were anxious to join in alliance 
with the Crusading forces but wanted to recover Jeru- 
salem. It was a purely religious motive which pre- 
vented this, the Crusaders were unwilling to leave the 
Holy Sepulchre in Muslim hands. 

So far as the history of Western Asia is concerned 
the Crusaders produced very great results, but these 
were purely destructive in character. They checked the 
Saljuqs and effectively broke their power, though that 
power had already commenced its decline before the 
Crusaders' arrival : but this only made way for a new 
Kurdish power. The Crusades as a religious war pro- 
voked an anti-Crusading movement, quite distinctlv 
religious in its character, on the Muslim side, a Hoi/ 
War to resist the champions of the Cross. The first 
mover in this was Zengi atabeg of Mosul, and it was 
continued by his son Nur ad-Dm. In the employ of 
these atabegs of Mosul was a Kurdish soldier named 
Ayyub who, at the death of Zengi in 541 (s=A.0. 1146) 
moved to Damascus, and eight years later became 
governor of the city. From him were descended the 
Ayyubites, Shirkuh and his nephew Salalh ad-Din, the 
instruments by which the Fatimid Khalifate was 
finally destroyed. It was not the rise of a new power 
but m'erely the development of one of the minor local 
states formed from the disintegrating Saljuq empire. 

The immediate result of the Crusades lay in the 
formation of Latin states in Palestine and Syria, at 
Jerusalem, Edessa, and Antioch, and in the final 
exclusion of the Fatimids from Syria, but none of these 
states had any stable foundation. Only in quite mirtor 
issues can we find any permanent traces of the 
Crusaders' presence in Asia. In the East their memory 
lives as a legend of tyranny and religious intolerance, 
whilst a few Arab tribes preserve a tradition of Crusad- 
ing blood. In the West it may be possible to argue 
that only the Carmelite Friars show any enduring trace 
of the Crusades : almost every influence which has been 
traced to the Crusades seems to have been due to inter- 
course between Muslim and Christian in Spain, or to 
Frederick II. in Naples and Sicily, though, of course, 
it might be argued that Frederick himself was a product 
of the Crusading age : yet it must be remembered that 
Frederick came more under the influence of Jews and 


Muslims expelled from Spain by the intolerance of the 
Muwahhid rulers. 

The work of Salah ad-Din who put an end to the 
Fatimid Khahfate of Egypt and to the Latin kingdom 
of Jerusalem, restored the semblance of authority to the 
'Abbasid Khalifate of Baghdad, but the following 
period 567 656 (=A.D. 1171-1258) saw no real re- 
construction of the Khalifate : existing conditions were 
merely bolstered up whilst internal decay proceeded on 
its course. In 656 (=A.D. 1258) the Khalif finally went 
down before the Mongol invasion which was simply 
destructive in its results. It was not until two cen- 
turies later that the Ottoman Turks sweeping westwards 
evolved a new order from these elements of decay and 
founded an empire which has lasted some 500 years, 
receiving from the last exiled representative bf the 
'Abbasids such title as he could give to the historic 
Khalifate, and practically re-organising the Sunni 
Muslim world on strictly orthodox and traditional lines 
so that, in spite of occasional dissentients, it generally 
won the esteem and loyalty of the world of Islam. 



THE Fatimid Khalifate jiad its origin in a religious 
sect which professed to represent the true Islam tran- 
mitted througih a line of seven Imams who alone under- 
stood the real meaning of the religion proclaimed by 
the Prophet Muhammad: the first of these was the 
Prophet s son-in-law 'Ali, and the last Isma'il the son 
of Ja'far as-Sadiq or his son Muhammad, with whom, 
according to the earlier teaching, the line ended as the 
Imam passed jnto concealment, the leaders of the sect 
keeping the teaching alive and preparing the way for 
his return to the visible world. At a later date the 
leaders claimed themselves to be the Imam's descend- 
ants, the " concealment M being no more than a hiding 
from the persecuting Khalifs of Baghdad, and so they 
were the continuers of the sacred tradition, and pn this 
claim rested the Khalifate of Kairawan and of Egypt. 
It is, of course, extremely difficult to make, anything 
like a fair estimate of the religious work and influence 
connected with sudh a movement, and especially 
because it professed to cover its religious teaching with 
a veil of secrecy, and also because, "during the duration 
of the Fatimid Khalifate in Egypt, the historians are 
almost .exclusively occupied witn recording the political 
activities of the rulers and make only occasional and 
allusive references to the sect as a religious body. It 
seems possible to distinguish three different elements in 
the sect, (i) the philosophical element which is one of 
the results of Greek philosophy and especially of the 
teaching of Aristotle as interpreted by the neo-Platpn- 
ists and represented in an oriental dress after passing 
through a Syrian and Persian medium. Such teaching 
is traditionally associated with Ja'far as-Sadiq, and 



seems to have been the real doctrine of the sect at its 
first formation, but that was revealed only to the 
initiated, and apparently it was never checked or re- 
stated in the light of the ,m'ore accurate study of the 
text of Aristiotle which was the work of the " philo- 
sophers " of the fourth century A.H. (ii) The definitely 
Shi'i doctrine of tihe incarnation of the divine spirit in 
the Imam passed on by transmigration from 'Ali to 
his descendants. And (lii) the purely political element 
which cared nothing about philosophical speculation pr 
Shi'i doctrine, but saw in the sect promising elements 
of a conspiracy against the 'Abbasid Khahfate. But 
it does not seem true to say that the whole movement 
was wholly political, as though there were no reality 
in the attachment to philosophical or Shi'ite ideas. 

When the Isma'ilian sect emerged first into the open 
arena in the Qarmatian rising the doctrinal element, 
especially (i), had effectively undermined p.11 adherence 
to orthodox Islam ; how long the Qarmatians remained 
attached to Shi'ite claim's we do not know, but they 
do not seeni to have attached much importance to them. 
In history the. Qarmatians appear as simply anti-Muslim 
and offensively irreligious : they give evidence of no 
ideals whatever beyond the ordinary aspirations of 
brigands, though we fnust bear in minq that ionly 
account of them is such as their enemies have given 
us. In fact they seem to have ,been simply a robber 
band released from all pretence of religious beliefs and 
inspired by a hatred of Islam due, no doubt, to 
oppression at the hands of Muslim rulers. 

The Khalifate at Kairawan and Cairo presents a 
much better test of the religious tendencies of the 
Isma'ilian sect. In this case the sectarian leaders 
established a strong government and, on the whole, 
ruled well. The government was founded by those jevho 
seem to have believed sincerely in the Fatimid claims, 
but the great majority of the subject population had no 
sympathies in that direction : they were quite willing 
to be ruled by Shi'ites, but had no inclination to turn 
Shi'ite themselves. The extravagant claims of incari*- 
atioa etc. which made so strong an appeal to the 
Persians found tihe Berbers and Egyptians irresponsive. 
The Isma'ilians made an attempt to press them into 
their sect when first the Mahdi was established at 


Kairawan, but this policy was soon abandoned and 
very rarely tried again, though it seems that the 
regular meetings of the sect and the instructions given 
by the du'at were continued until some time after tihe 
reign of Hakim. For the most part the Fatimids were 
quite content with political power and did not interfere 
with the religious convictions of the people. The con- 
dition seems to have been that the Isma'ilians formed 
a kind of free-masonry which was, to som'e extent, the 
"power behind the throne, " .though it was by no 
means necessary for the officers of state to be members 
of that brotherhood themselves, and in later times, 
when the wazirs were practically independent princes, 
cases occur in which the official government is actually 
unfriendly towards it. In the later part of the Fatimid 
period the only mark whidh distinguished its rule from 
that of the orthodox Khalif at Baghdad seems to have 
been that the khutba before the Friday sermon was 
said in the name of the Fatimid, and that of the 
'Abbasid was not mentioned. The whole sectarian 
teaching seems to have evaporated steadily in an 
Egyptian atmosphere which was one of steady in- 
difference* The philosophical teaching whidh had been 
the first ,object of the sect, died away in Asia, and was 
then transmitted to Spain which formed a kind of orbis 
ulterior of Islam, leaping over Egypt altogether, as 
though its premature development in the Isma'ilian 
sect had inoculated the Fatimite community against it. 
The characteristically Persian .doctrines of incarnation 
and transmigration took no hold in Egypt or Ilfrikiya : 
when they were vigorously preached by Persians in 
Hakim's time they only provoked a riot. 

We can hardly treat religion as a matter of race, for 
there seems no good evidence for extending heredity 
so as to include matters of cultural 'development ; 
culture, which includes religion, is transmitted by 
contact not by descent, it is learned not inherited : and 
it is very doubtful how far psychological pre-dis- 
positions can be inherited. But culture exists jp 
different areas with distinctive characteristics so that it 
is not easy for persons of one culture-area to appreciate 
the outlook of those of another, although there is A 
constant culture-drift passing between the two. In 
North Africa there is a tendency to pay exaggerated 


honour, which might be described as actual worship, 
to the murabtts or saints, but it is quite independent of 
the incarnation theories which prevail in Persia and 
India, and so we may say that this, the characteristic 
tenet pf the Isma'ilis as Shi'ites, found itself in Egypt 
and North Africa in an unsympathetic atmosphere, and 
was gradually starved out. Perhaps we may take the 
accession of al-Hafiz in A.H 524 A.D. 1131, when the 
wazir in office was antagonistic to the Isma'ili doctrines, 
as the probable date by which the doctrines of the 
Isma'ih sect had ceased to have any meaning in Egypt, 
and consequently that in which the parent Isma'ih sect 
was practically obsolete. Whatever m!ay have been the 
sincerity of its first founders, of those whom we credit 
with a desire to spread the philosophical theories 
learned from Greek philosophers and formed into a 
body of doctrine subversive of the traditional teaching 
of .fslam, or of those who were attached to the incarn- 
ation theories of the Persians, it is clear that the purely 
political element finally gained the upper hand, and in 
due time discarded all the religious and philosophical 
thought which, from their point of view, had outlived 
its utility. In Fatimid Egypt the sect was rather like 
a free-masonry under royal patronage, and when this 
patronage came to an end the sect died a natural death. 
That the teaching of Duruzi ,and Hamza in the reign 
of Hakim met with such violent opposition is convinc- 
ing that Shi ( i teachings were uncongenial to the 
Egyptians, though it does seem that under Fatimid rule 
Cairo was muth frequented by Persian visitors and 

The .subsequent influence of the Isma'ili sect shows 
itself in off-shoots which do not connect with Egypt or 
North Africa. So far as we know the first Isma r ih pro- 
paganda in India took place about A.H. 46o=A.D. 1067, 
about the time when the Fatimid Khalifate in Egypt 
was just coming to the end of its flourishing period. 
At that time a missionary named 'Abdullah came from 
Yemen and preached in North-West India, and is 
claimed as the founder of a sect known as the Bohras 
which is found scattered through many of the trading 
centres of the Bombay presidency, though some attri- 
bute its foundation to a later teacher, the Mullah 'AH. 
Many of the Bdfaras, however, have become Sunni (fcf . 


Nur Allah ash-Shushtari, quoted in Arnold : Preaching 
of Islam, pp. 275-7). 

The Khojah sect proper was founded by a da i jiamed 
Nut ad-Dm who was sent from Alamut about A,H. 495 
(=A.D. 1101), or perhaps later, and so is an off-shoot 
of the Assassins (cf. p. 214 supra), Nur ad-Din changed 
his name to the Hindu Nur Satagar and made 
many converts from 1 the lower castes of Gujerat. About 
A.D. 1430 the head of this Khojah sect was Pir Sadr 
ad-Din who adapted its teachings to suit Hindu ideas ; 
according to him Muhammad was Brahma, Ali was 
Krisna in his tenth incarnation (avater), thus accepting 
the previous nine incarnations of Hindu mythology and 
adding this extra one as an adaptation to Shi'ite ideas, 
and Adalm was Siva. This Hindu rendering of 
Isma'ilian ideas was detailed in a book whidh he 
produced and called the Dasavatar, which serves as the 
sacred book of the modern Khojahs and is read beside 
any member of the sect on his death-bed. In this semi- 
Hindu teaching it is difficult to trace any real con- 
tinuity with .historic Islam, and it is rather grotesque 
to find that the members of the sect, numerous in the 
chief trading towns of western India, have in recent 
years taken a leading part in Islamic agitations against 
British rule, 

These Indian Khojahs represent the Assassin Branch 
of the Fatimite wing, but there are other representatives 
of the same branch scattered all over the Muslim world, 
though nowhere forming an -established comtaunity 
quite in the same way as in West India. The Bohras, 
or such of them as have not turned Sunni, .represent 
the older parent stock of the Isma'ilians. The Druzes 
of Mount Lebanon maintain the off-shoot formed 
during the later years of al-Hakim, and these show a 
clear continuity than any other relic of the sect which 
set the Fatimid Khalifate upon the throne of Egypt. 


(A). Original authorities accessible in translations or 

Abraham the Syrian. 

Leroy : Histoire d' Abraham le Syrien patriarche copte 

d'Alexandrie. (In " Revue de 1'Orient Chretien " : 

1909* PP- 38o sqq.) 
Ibn Adhan(d. 662). 

Histoire del'Afrique et del'Espagne. Dozy. Leide. 

Ahmad b. Yahya al-Baladuri. 

Liber expugnationis regionum. Lugd. Batav. 1863-6 

(in 3 parts). 
Arib b. Sa'd ot Cordoba (circ. 366). 

Nicholson : Account of the establishment of the Fatemite 

dynasty (translation), Tubingen and Bristol, 1840. 

(The history goes down to the end of al-Muqtadir's 

reign, A,H. 320.) 

Edition in Arabic, by de Goeje. (Supplement to 

Tabari's history.) 
Ibn al-Athir ('All b, Muhammad). 

Dozy : Hist. Abbadidarum, vol. ii. 

Jornberg: Ibn-el-Athir's Chronika. Lund. 1851. 
Baha ad-Din (Muhammad b. Husayn). 

Vita SaladinL Ed. Schultens. Lugd. Batav. 1732. 

In Migne, Patrolo^ia Graeca, vol. ci. pp. 889, etc. 

Edit, in Corpus Script. Christ. Orientalium, vol. i. 1906 

vol. ii. 1909, Ed. Cheiko and Carra de Vaux. 
Abu 1-Feda (Isma'il b. 'Ali, king of Hamat in 743, died 749). 

Wrote Tarikh Mukhtasir. Ed. Constantinople, 2 vols. 

A.H. 1329. Text and Latin trans, by Reiske : Annales 

Moslemici, 5 vols, Copenhagen, A.D. 1789-1794. 

Also Taqwimu 1-BuIdan, ed. with Lat. trans., Graevius, 

1650. Republished, ed. Hudson, Oxford, 1712. 
Fihrist. The Fihrist of Muhammad b. Ishaq an-Nadim. 

Ed. Fluegel, Leipzig, 1871. Written cure. 378 (=A,D, 

988), invaluable for earlier Shi'ite history Many 

authors such as Akhu Muhsin, Ibn Razzam, etc., are 

known only by citations in the Fihrist. 
Gregory Bar Hebraeus or Abu 1-Faraj. 

d. A.D. 1286. His great history was planned in three 

parts, of which part L " the history of the dynasties " 

deals with political history. Syriac text edited by 

Bedjan, Paris, 1890. The Arabic translation by the 


author is enriched with matter which does not occur 
in the Syriac, ed. Pococke, Oxford, 1663; Arabic text 
Beirut, 1890. 

Al-Kairawani. Muhammad b. All r-Rayni al-Kairawani. 
Ed. Pellisier et Remusat, Sciences hist, et gogr. vii. 
Paris, 1845. (Explorat scientifique de TAlgdrie.) 

Kamal ad-Din. 

History of Aleppo. Ed. and trans, as " Regnum Saad 
aldawlae." G. W. Freytag, Bonn, 1820. 

Ibn Khaldun, Wali ad-Din Abu Zayd Abdu r-Rahman ibn 


d. 809. Ed. Bulaq, 1284 ( = 1867) in 7 vols. Pro- 
legomena, text and French tr. in vols. 16-21 of Notices 
et extraits des manuscrits de la bib. nat. 
De Slane, Histoire des Berberes, Alger, 1831-2. 
Noel des Vergers, Hist, de PAfrique, Paris, 1841. 
Jornberg: Ibn Khaldunnarr de expedit. Francorum 
in terras Islamismo sub je etas, Upsala. 1840. (Text 
and Latin trans.) 

Ibn Khallikan. Shams ad-Din Abu 1- Abb as. 

d. 681. Wrote Wafiat ul-Aiyan (Biographical Diction- 
ary), strongly anti-Fatimid. Ed. Wustenfeld, Gottingen, 
1835. Eng, Trans, (cited in references) by De Slane, 

Khandemir (Khwand Amir). 

Persian. Ed. (with German tr.) Die Geschichte 
Tabaristans, etc., St. Petersburg, 1850. 

Abu 1-Mahasin. 

d. 875. Ed. J. D. Carlyle, Maured Allatafet Jemaled- 
dim. Cambridge, 1792 (very defective). 
Annals, ed. T. G. J. JuynboU, Leiden, 1861. 


d. 672. Ed. Erpenius, Historia Saraceuica, Lugd. 
Batav, 1625. 

Maqrizi, Ahmah b. 'AH b. 'Abdu 1-Qadir al*Maqrizi (dz. 


Chief authority for the history and antiquities of Cairo. 
Favourably disposed towards the Fatimid Khalif s from 
whom he claimed descent. 

Ed. Bulaq, A.H. 1270. Portions translated in De Sacy's 
Chrestomathie. Part by Bouriant (but nothing relating, 
to the Fatimids as yet reached in this translation. Pub. 
1895, etc. in progress). Ed. Wiet, Cairo, 1911, etc. (a 
corrected text). 

Wuestenf eld : Macrizi's Geschichte der Copten. (Text 
and trans.) 1845. 



Sefer ^ameh, Relation du voyage de Nasir i KhosraUy 

ed. and tr. C. Schefer, Paris, 1881. 
An-Nuwairi, Ahmad b. 'Abdu 1-Wahhab. (d. 733). 

Only portions accessible, no full text published. 

Dozy, Historia Abbadidarum, ii. 1846. 

Dozy, Historia Siciliae, Arabice et Latine, 1790. 

Hist, de la Sicilie, trad, par J. J. A. Caussin, Paris, 

year x (1802). 

Derenbourg, Vie d'Ousima, Paris, 1886. 

(Contains Osama 1 s own memoirs : invaluable for the 

reign of az-Zafir and the history immediately following".) 

Al-Kalkashandi, tr. Wustenfeld, Die Geographic, etc. 

Gottingen, 1879. 

(B). Modern Writers. 

De Goeje : M&noires sur les Carmathes du Bahrain et les 

Fatimides. Leide, 1886. 

Dozy : Essai sur 1-histoire de I'lslamisme. Leide, 1879. 
Dussand, R. : Histoire et religion des Nosairis. Pans, 1900. 
Guyard : Fragments relatifs la doctrine des Isma&is. 

Paris, 1874. 
Von Kremer : Kulturgeschichte des Orients unter den 

Chalifen. 1875-7. 
Lane Pooles : Story of Cairo. Lond., 1906. 

,, History of Egypt. Middle Ages. Load. 

New ed. 1914. 

Moslem Dynasties. 1894. 

,, Art of the Saracens in Egypt. 1886. 

Coinage of Egypt A.H. 358-922. (Vol. ii. of 

Catal. of Brit. Mus. Oriental Coins). 1892. 
Mann, J. : The Jews in Egypt and Palestine under the 

Fatimid Caliphs. Oxford, 1920. 
Qatremere : Sur la dynastic des Khalifes Fatimites. 

(Journal asial. for August, 1836. 3rd series, No. 2.) 
Ravaisse : Essai sur 1'histoire etc. d'apres Makrizi. 
Rivoira : .Moslem architecture, Eng. trans. Oxford, 1918. 
De Sacy: Expos de la religion des Druzes. Paris, 1838 

(2 vols.). 

De Sacy : Chrestomathie fvols. i, and ii.), 
Wuestenfeld : Geschichte d. Fatimiden Chalifen. Gr6ttingen > 


(A series of extracts, not a connected history.) 
Wuestenfeld: El-Macrizi's Abhandlung. 1847. 
Zaydam, G. : Umayyads and Abbasids, Lond., 1907. 


'Abbas, 229 

wazir, 230 

Abdan, 45 

'Abdullah, founder (<w reformer) 

of Isma'ilite sect, 16, 17, 21, 32 
'Abdullah b. Essaig, minister to 

the Aghlabids, 66 
Abu'Abdullah, missionary In N. 

Afrka, 57 sqq. 
suspected, 69 
executed, 71 
Abu Khatam's sect, 48 
Abu Najah, the monk and minister 

of finance, 320 

Abu Raqwa, Umayyad claimant in 
invades Egypt 149 sqq. 

N. Africa, 147 sqq. 
defeated, 151 
death, 152 
Aghlabid dynasty in N. Africa, 

59, 247 

Ahmad, son of Abdullah, 33 
Ahmah, wazir to al-Hafiz, 222- 

Al-Adld, 235 

Al-Afdal, 216020 

Al-Amir ( Khalif, 218 

^assassinated, 220-221 

AI-'Aziz, Khalif, 115 sqq. 

death, 121-122 

Aleppo, 175, 176, 195 

AUVic, Khalif, 333 

Al-Hafiz, Khalif, 222 

Al-Hakim. Khalif, 121, 123 eqq. 

peculiarities, 133 

mosques, 137-8 

--disappears, 185 sqq, 

-reports thai he is still alive, 188 

'Ali, 4, 5 

'Ali Allahi, 16 

'AIM lines of descent, 5, ti 

Al-Jariarai, 193, 196 

Al-Mahadiya founded, 77 

Al-Mansur, Khalif, 90, 91 

AI-Mo'izz, Khalif, 93 sqq. 

-foes to Egypt, 109 

his rule in Egypt, 113 
Al-Mustali, Khalif, 210 sqq. 
Al-Mustansir, Khalif, 88 
Al-Qa'im, Khalif, 88 
Al-Yazuri, 196, 197, 198, zoo, 


Amalric, 239-242 
Anustakin, 191-196 
Arab race, i 

Armenians in Egypt, 206, 223-224 
As-Salih, 233, 235-236 
Assassins, sect of, 209, 210 sqq., 


Az-Zafir, Khalif, 227 
Az-Zahir, Khalif, 189 


Babists, 15 

Badr the Armenian, 206, 208 

Bahrain taken by the Qarmatians, 


Baldwin, 218-219 
Barjawan, 124, 126, 130 
assassinated, 131 
Barqa taken by Abu Raqwa, 14$- 


Batinite doctrines, 7, 12, 176 
Berbers, 55-56, 74 sqq, 
B, Qorra, 147-148 
Buranlyya sect, 48 
Byzantium, treaty with, 191 

Cairo founded, 102 sqq., 114 
Christians, 2, 116, 141, 143-145, 


allowed to emigrate, 171 
Cluniac movement, 252-254 
" Companions " cursed, 142 
cursing stopped, 154, 169 
Crusade^ 3i&-2i8, 224, 3361 238* 



Da'i or missionary of Shi'ite sect, 

6, 7 
arguments used by Isma'llian 

da'i, 21 sqq. 
Chief Da'i, 135 
Darazi, Persian teacher who 

visited Egypt, 176 
Daylamites, 83 
Daysaii, 18 
Dirgham, 236, 238 
Druses, 43, 178-179. 1*7, 344 


. attacked, 78, 94 

li'ites in, 79 
disorder in Egypt, 97-98 
invaded by the Fatimids, 99 

Fadl, general under al-Hakim, 

H9, ^'iSa 

Famine In Egypt, 190, 204-205 
Fatimid claims, 34 sqq. , cf. 'Alid 

lines of descent 
claims ridiculed, 116 
manifesto against, 166 
Fatimid architecture, 106 
decline of Fatimids. 254 
end of Fatimid rule, 243-245 
Forbidden vegetables, 141-142, 164 
Fustat, 103 
fired by al-Hakim, 183 


Haftakin, in sqq. 

prisoner, 119 

Hamdan, 39, 40, 43 

Hamza, 178, 179, 181 

Hasan al Akhram, 178 

Hasan b. Mufarraj revolts, 163 

Hasan-i-Sabbah visits Egypt, 208 

sqq., 212 

Hasan Qarmatian leader, 47 
Hashlmites, 5 
Hijaz, recognition of Fatimids in, 


" House of Wisdom," 139-140 
Husayn Ahwaz!, 39 
Husayn b. Jawhar, 131, 132, 153- 


Ibn al-Muqaffa'j 18 

Ibn 'Ammar, 124 

downfall, 126-127 

Ibn Hawshab, 51 sqq. 

Ibn Killis the Jew, 99, 114, 120 

Ibn Nestorius, 120 

Ibn Sallar wazir, 227 

revolts, 227-229 

murdered, 229-230 

Idrisids, 76, 99 

Ikhsmds, 81, 83, 93, 107 

Ikhwanu s-Safa, 139 

Isma'il, 9 

Isma'Uian sect, 12 sqq., 29 

doctrine, 257-258 

otfshoots, 212, 260 sqq. 


Ja'far as-Sadiq, 16, 37, 45. '61, 

Jawhar, 98 

invades Egypt, 99 sqq. 

Jerusalem, church of the Resurrec- 
tion destroyed, 157 

city taken by the Turks, 207 

by the Crusaders, 216 

kingdom of, 216, 255 

"Jewish legend," 34, 47, 68 

Jews, 2, 155-160, 170, 179-180 

Kafur, 93 sqq. 
a patron of literature, 95 
Kahira, cf. Cairo 
Kairawan, 61, 64, 76, 85 
Khalifs of, 74 sqq. 
Kasam, 47 
Katama tribe, 57 
Kaysanite sect, 5 
Khallf, title of, 3 
Kharijites, 56, js 
revolt of, 88-89 
" King " a? title of the wazir, 

Legitimist ideas of the Persians, 

3t >4i 15 

Licence issued by ad-Hakim to 





Madina officials sent to remove 

Sab'iya, Isma'iHan sect, 10, 


articles from, 161 

grades, 21 sqq. 

Maghrab, 55 

Saladin, 238-239, 243, 256 

Mahmud of Ghazna, 168, 249-250 

Saljuq Turks, 201, 207, 215 

. ai9i 

Mani, 19 

251. 254 

Mansuri sect, 7 

" Seveners, 11 cf Sab'iya 

Marcion, 19 

Shawar, 236-243 

Ma}mun, 18, 20 

Shi'ites, 4, 16 

Muslim expansion, 2 

sects, 6; cf. Isma'ilians 

claims, 42 


Shirkub, 236, 238, 239, 341 

Sicily revolts, 77 

Nasir ad-Dawla, 204-205 
Nasir ad-Din, 229 
murders az-Zafir, 230-232 

Syria, 102, 117, 126-127, 
136, 163* 174. 175. *9i-l9 
lost to Ihe Fatimids, 219 


5, 334 

Nasir-i-Khusraw visits Egypt, 198 

sqq , 209 

Nizar's revolt, 211-212 


North Africa, 52 sqq. 

deserts the Fatimids, 200-201 

Tekin, 79 sqq. 

Nuwajri's account of oath taken 

Transmigration, 14 

by Isma'ilis, 30 

Tripoli, 77 

Turks , cf. Saljuq 

" Twelvers," 10 

Okayl Arabs revolt, 164 


Oman resists the Qarmatians, 50 

Osama, 225 sqq., 230 

'Ubayd Allah, 33, 61 sqq. 

journey to N. Africa, 6a 


imprisoned, 62 

libeiatrd, 67 sqq. 

Patriaich imprisoned by al-Hakim, 


released, 180-181 


Persians, 3, 7 

Princess Royal al-Hakim 's sister, 
182-184, 189 

Wine, laws against, 165 

Palestine and Syria lost to the 

Fatimids 219 



Yahya's sect, 48 

Yemen, Isma'ilians in, 51 si 


Qadi, office of, 134 

Yusuf, 184 * 



Raqada, 64 

taken by Abu 'Abdullah, 67, 69 
_Rudwan, 224-225 

Zaqrima, 46 
Ziadut Allah. 60. 6a staa.